Sewing For Sustainability
To empower students, reduce plastic waste, promote solutions to the plastic problem.
The Action Project carried out by the grade 6/7 students at High Park Alternative School, focused on the plastic problem and eco-minded citizen empowerment. In the project, the students developed the skill and know how to use a sewing machine, including threading and bobbin. The students measured and cut donated fabric as well up cycled fabrics from home, such as bed sheets, curtains, old t-shirts and blue jeans to construct multi purpose reusable drawstring bags.
The Action Project started with the students interest to educate our school community about the plastic problem, but also focusing on simple solutions. To begin, the student were asked to research an environmental topic/ issue and address an elected official about their concerns in a persuasive writing assignment. The class examined the issues each of them wrote about and they discovered many of them had wrote about the plastic problem and the effects it was having on our ecosystems, animals and humans. As hopeless as the plastic problem can feel at times, the students focused on solutions. During discussions, we came across the fact the lifespan of 1 reusable bag is equal to 700 plastic bags being taken out from the our environment.
As investigations into the plastic problem was a theme in the class. The discussions shifted to thoughts of actions and shifted to identifying produce bags that litter our trees in our urban forest closest to grocery stores. The agreed they were unsightly as well toxic for our environment that is close to a major watershed, and pond. We discussed the cost of buying reusable bags, why people still use the thin produce bags and how can people shift from not using them anymore. As a class, we came up with the idea to make bags as our project.
The students eagerly gathered fabric of all types; the parent community was engaged and 2 sewing machines were donated/loaned; thread, needles, two pairs of pinking sheers and cotton chord was sourced from garage sales. All in all, from donations to items sourced using LSF Action grant funding, our grade 6/7 class had up and running: 4 sewing machines, 10 bags of donated/up cycled fabric, and all donated thread, needles and an iron.
Reflection & Celebration
By the end of the project, each student had constructed a bag for themselves and a bag for their grade 1 learning buddy. To reach our larger community, a display was constructed titled ‘Sewing for Sustainability’ to celebrate the ‘maker skill’ of the students learning to sew as well as facts about reusable bags to educate our school community about solutions to the plastic problem. Projects outcomes were celebrated with vegan cupcakes from a local bakery in a park.