The planet is becoming the biggest fashion victim going. One million tonnes of clothing textiles are thrown away in the UK alone each year, partially due to our tendency to indulge in fast fashion trends.
The most frustrating thing about that is that ninety five per cent of the textiles that are landfilled each year are actually recyclable, according to SMART.
Channelling his frustration at the lack of textile recycling options in the fashion industry is Russell Philip Peek. A London-based stylist for advertising and fashion, he founded and launched Cushn Company last October.
He creates sustainable, stylish homewear, starting with recyclable cushions. Russell takes waste material from a range of sources, including community sewing lessons, fashion designers and even take costumes from theatrical and advertising projects.
Once the fabric scraps are in Russell’s studio, any buttons and zips are removed, and the materials are split according to their thickness (and how much shredding is required to break them down).
He then hand shreds them, and uses the pieces as innards for cushions made from organic cotton.
“I found that everything just gets thrown away when it goes out of fashion or there’s no more use for it. It’s the industry attitude of: next, next, next that got to me. I wanted to see what I could do about that,” he says.
The shredded material is then used to stuff the cushion pads, which are one hundred per cent organic. Each cushion is stamped with a unique number, and each cover includes a label which details where the fabric was used in its previous life.
You can also donate your old unwanted cushion covers, to be recycled into innards for your new one.
“What we’re aiming for is an example of a completely circular economy,” Russell says.
And the plan is to take things even further than recyclable cushions. Russell plans to provide recycling consultation and advice to fashion brands.
“When I’ve asked some companies, they’ve honestly not even thought about it. We’d love to set up collaborations where we use cut-off material from a fashion label’s line, taking their waste off their hands and creating something new and beautiful out of it.”
On the wall of his workshop, Russell has scribbled in black marker “all profit is not created equal”.
“After sewing on the thirtieth zip of the day, I look at that and remember why I’m doing what I’m doing. I want to run a socially conscious business that has a positive impact on the environment.”
Like he says. All profit is not created equal.