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COP Twenty Stitch Community Response

 

COP Twenty Stitch is a local community project facilitated by Bawn, inviting our sewing community to contribute their time and thoughts on COP26 coming to Glasgow. During 8 weekly sewing sessions, we questioned what exactly is COP26? How will it impact Glasgow as a city? And how can we contribute through our love of sewing and textiles?

COP26 is the 26th Conference of Parties, held annually in various cities since 1995. Governments who have signed the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change meet to take collective action on environmental issues for our future; it’s a time for major decision making. 

During COP21, most countries agreed that there was a serious need to halt the earth’s temperature rising. They formed The Paris Agreement - a commitment from each signing country to reduce carbon emissions and avoid the earth’s temperature rising above 1.5 degrees at all costs. Now is not the time to push back on promises made!

Sadly, the fashion and textiles industry is one of the most disruptive on our planet. 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by clothing and footwear production, this is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. So, we’ve created this banner to spark a conversation in Glasgow around our daily impact on the world through textiles.

Did you know there are 7.6 billion people in the world, yet 150 billion garments are produced yearly? This over-production contributes to 92 million tonnes of post-consumer waste being sent to landfills globally each year! To create this banner, we used only surplus, offcut and secondhand fabrics to confront issues of waste in fashion and consider other uses for unwanted clothes and textiles.

We believe it is so important to wear and care for our clothes for as long as possible. And how we look after them plays a big part in their environmental impact. 25% of our clothes' carbon footprint comes from our daily routine of washing. You might have noticed this machine is set at that all important temperature of 1.5 degrees, that’s because everything from the water temperature to the energy used and how often we ‘put a wash on’ leaves an impression. Particularly on our oceans, as 0.5 million tonnes of microplastics from washing synthetic clothes are released into the sea every year, accounting for 35% of primary microplastics released into the environment. Something to think about the next time another load is ready for the machine!

Over 50 people contributed to this community effort; drawing, cutting, stitching and sharing stories. Thanks to the collaborative nature of the project, we embraced a patchwork style. We contemplated that many people view this technique as ‘women’s work,’ similar to washing and making clothes…

But patchwork is also associated with banner making, activism and storytelling. And the gender inequalities in climate justice and the fashion industry were on our minds as we worked on this piece. We talked of the 74 million textile workers in the world, 80% being women of colour living in the Global South. This banner urges us to think of how the wear and care of our clothes impacts the planet and everyone on it.

Perhaps after COP26 this project can be used as a teaching tool in schools or donated to Glasgow Museums for the social history of the conference.