During the Christmas season, Filipinos flood malls all over the country for their gift shopping and are excited to snag the best deals and discounts stores have to offer. However, it’s exactly this type of heightened consumerism that has allowed landfills across the world to reach their capacity.

Photos by George Buid

MAKE SMTHING Week 2018, a project headed by Kristen Brodde from Greenpeace, was launched this November to counter this holiday consumerism through a gathering of the sustainable community to promote upcycling, sharing, and creating.
“We’re technically in this point where the unhealthy development is currently happening,” Sophia Calugay said, one of the members of Fashion Revolution Philippines, the organization that brought MAKE SMTHING Week 2018 to Manila. “But local fashion designers have practiced upcycling and recycling threads from their previous collection,” she continued.
Fashion Revolution Philippines had collaborated with several fashion designers, artists, and organizations to give talks and workshops to inform, instill, and teach sustainable fashion.

MAKE SMTHING Week 2018 kicked off at The Good Trade’s Lawn Party last November 24 at the Skygarden in SM Aura. “It’s really exciting because the Good Trade is really at the vanguard of the movement to prove that sustainability isn’t just a buzzword in the Philippines,” Jana Bunagan, owner and founder of The Good Trade, explained.

People of all ages, backgrounds, and even nationalities roamed around the variety of sustainable businesses under The Good Trade, from reusable or biodegradable self-care items to ethically-made pet accessories.

Meanwhile, an audience were treated to a screening of The True Cost (2015) , a documentary on fast fashion’s environmental, physical, and even mental impact on the global society. Viewers of the documentary saw how the fashion industry is the second largest pollutant on the earth next to the oil industry. It sheds light on how some prominent brands, which have cemented their hold in the Philippines only recently, make use of factories that mistreat their employees in order to meet the huge global demand. The physical health of the communities that surround these factories also are affected due to the environmental waste produced in the process of making the clothes. Even the advertising of these clothes promotes a demand that’s based on insecurity and self-doubt.

The documentary screening was followed by a discussion by Monica Vivar, owner and founder of Denuo, on the possible steps people can take in order to counter the negative effects of fast fashion, aptly including patronizing the local businesses present.
She shifted into the meaning and future of sustainable fashion, which should not merely be concerned with using renewable or eco-friendly resources but should be an overall movement towards compassion, understanding, and respect for the workers and the source of their materials.
Her talk was indeed echoed in Fashion Revolution Philippines’ next set of workshops and talks at their fashion swapping event in SHARVD Coworking, which utilizes local and repurposed furniture, last December 1.
The talks began with Custom Made Crafts Center’s Joy Ann Chua and Yana Ofrasio’s discussion on reviving traditional dyeing with Philippine indigo by partnering with indigenous communities across the country and even international brands. “We have to be mindful makers,” Yana said, pertaining to how things should be made with a purpose.
CMCC’s partnerships are not only to promote traditional dyeing with locally-sourced indigo but to also give these communities livelihoods. For them, the community should come first before the product.
Ria Persad, Miss Trinidad & Tobago for the Miss USS America Pageant 2018, also shared how she was led to have a sustainable mindset, especially when it comes to her shopping habits. For the beauty pageant contestant and climate change scientist, she believes that people shouldn’t be pressured into following the trends that fast fashion promotes. Instead, she shared that being authentic and mindful with how she shops has led her to prefer second-hand clothing over mass-produced clothing in the stores.
Sustainable fashion could also be done in one’s own home, as shown through the upcycling workshops in both events. Upcycling or repurposing old clothing has been a way to combat the amount of clothes being thrown away into landfills. Bianca Gregorio, owner of Re Clothing, showed how embroidery can revive second-hand clothing into fashionable pieces once again.
Adavieve Mella of Upcycle This Philippines wanted to break the stigma that upcycling needs a lot of equipment and expertise by promoting finger-knitting with “tarn” or yarn made of old t-shirts. As for Irene Subang, a fashion design teacher, she saw how much scrap fabric was being wasted in her design classes and decided to teach people on how to upcycle them into embellishments.
Sustainability, along with sustainable fashion, isn’t just a passing fad any longer. The interest to change the way people consume and buy material things can be seen at the success of these events. And it’s because through these workshops, talks, and bazaars that sustainable fashion continues to be fun, easy, and accessible for anyone interested to join the movement.
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