What: Giving Tuesday Campaign (#GivingTuesday)
When: Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Where: The Sewist Society – 4632 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, Florida 33603
Why: Inform, Educate and Give Back Through Sustainability
TAMPA, FL – To celebrate this year’s Giving Tuesday, local non-profit The Sewist Society will be going live on their Facebook page at Noon. Join Co-Owners Leigh Anne Balzekas and Ericka Leigh as they talk about the company’s mission, textile recycling and their overall passion for creating a sustainable community. You can visit The Sewist Society at www.facebook.com/Thesewistsociety.
Prior to Giving Tuesday, the TSS crew will be joining The Disco Dolls Studio, as well as other local businesses and non-profits at The Heights For Good Event, which takes place on Small Business Saturday November 28th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Disco Dolls Studio, located at 4632 N Florida Avenue in Tampa.
More About TSS:
The Sewist Society is a Skill share and Equitable Waste reduction organization focusing on the Interconnectedness of Sustainability and Trade as it relates to craft, textiles, and the community. The function of TSS is to reduce waste, provide jobs, educate, and facilitate. Imagine a community where the pathways to employment also sow the seeds of equality, opportunity, transformation, and healing. Imagine a community where women are recognized for the skills they’ve cultivated and passed down for generations. They imagine a community in harmony with the built and natural environment, symbiotic with each other.
“The problem is that we’re drowning in textiles,” says co-owner Ericka Leigh. “In the United States alone, an estimated 17 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2018 with over 11 million tons being sent to a landfill and another three million tons being burned or combusted for waste-to-energy. Because the USA is a leader in cheap and fast consumption, we must also be champions on cleaning up the mess made. They say you’re supposed to leave a place a little nicer than when you found it, after all.”
Seeing an opportunity in the problem, a few seamstresses banded together to create The Sewist Society. With an interdisciplinary approach, TSS is undertaking the task of reimagining textile waste and revolutionizing waste management in a new field.
There is great need for fabric recycling all over the planet. By thinking globally and acting locally, The Sewist Society believes they can make an impact in the community by off-setting fabric that would normally be sent to a landfill. An estimated 85% of textiles produced are landfilled each year, leaching toxins into the soil, groundwater, and surrounding neighborhoods. With The Textile Compost Project, TSS is looking for an alternative scalable solution to address society’s abundant clothing and fiber rejects.
A Textile Recycling Hub:
Between two small studios, TSS has already diverted over 1,500 yards of fabric from a landfill by making the old new again through an array of designs. With an upgrade to a warehouse facility, they project they will recycle upwards of 500,000 pounds of textiles in their first year. The addition of receiving and sorting bays, land for composting, and a storefront, will enable TSS to fulfill its mission in a more tangible and impactful way.
Right now, there is no large-scale solution to recycle textiles. The most employed current model of recycling textiles includes shipping our unwanted and unsold textiles to overseas markets, which incidentally does more to hurt those foreign local economies rather than help them.
TSS has a three prong approach to fabric/textile recycling: fiber composting, where we are pioneering new research; products made from waste; and selling supplies at a reduced rate to artists/sewists/designers, encouraging the local community to produce, participate, and consume sustainable designs, art, and crafts.
A Community Center:
By fashioning a space where neighbors can learn from and collaborate with each other in creative ways, TSS cultivates a space that feeds a community of invention, acumen, and fellowship.
The Community Center will include sewing classes and workshops, educational courses and talks, an event hall for art shows, gatherings, and more. There will be community service opportunities through partnerships with schools, colleges, universities, community clubs, and more.
Additional compost inputs can come from partnerships with Lowry Park Zoo for animal manure, local restaurants who want to divert their organic waste from a landfill to an industrial composting facility, and possibly home composters. Other possible partnerships include tree trimming companies who need to dispose of large quantities of mulch, paper shredding companies, and more for carbon/brown matter.
The Sewist Society facility will include a skill-share and job readiness program. TSS also imagines a program focused on skills development, pathways to employment, and or re/integration into society for the formerly incarcerated, and immigrant and refugee populations. The strength of a community stands on the shoulders of its members and is dependent on a place where they can gather, play, create, sow, and grow together.
A Think Tank:
TSS has an incredible opportunity in research with our Textile Composting project. There are many sources (EPA, NRDC, Sierra Club) that say textile composting is possible, yet there is little to no research being done. This is entirely new, and the society is in a unique position to contribute to the pioneering research in this field. While there have been small scale experiments, there haven’t been any attempts to compost fabric on large scale. There is much more waste than known, and more than could possibly even be measured, which is why The Sewist Society is on a mission to mitigate and manage the deluge of textile waste. There are hundreds of thousands of tons of fabric waste moving through our small area on a yearly cycle, and we know there’s a better way to dispose of them that doesn’t include landfill, incineration, or shipping to another country.
The Sewist Society Think Tank will hypothesize, research, perform, implement, and advocate for sustainable processes as they relate to the effective management of textiles and fibrous materials waste and reuse, as well as other issues regarding environmental justice, land management, sustainable agriculture, women’s rights, and soil restoration. TSS feels that this business model could be replicated in other cities and can help minimize waste in communities across the country.
“We honor the life cycle of the fabric, from the seed, to the thread, to the cloth, to the garment, and all the hands that made it. We believe that through awareness and education, we can redefine our relationship to textiles and grow a future that sustains us all,” says owner Leigh Ann Balzekas.
If any individual or organization would like to get involved, please contact The Sewist Society at (813) 421-3819, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.thesewistsociety.org.
Leigh Anne Balzekas, Co-Founder
4632 N. Florida Ave. l Tampa, Florida 33603