Diverting fashion from landfill: Goodwill connects with Apparel Design & Merchandising students for clothing redesign

Author: CHSS Communications
August 11, 2022
redesigned garment before and after images

Giving damaged or unwanted clothes a second life brings significant benefits to the planet and our community. Currently, there is low awareness and very few options to repair, recover or reuse damaged garments, so they often end up in local landfills — an estimated 4,500 pounds per hour in San Francisco. Goodwill sees many valuable, damaged items through community donations and wants better options to get the damaged garments back into the community for reuse to support their sustainability goals and create local jobs. A collaborative local pilot project, with participation by students in the Apparel Design & Merchandising (ADM) program at San Francisco State University, is designing solutions to this problem. 

The Diverting Fashion from Landfill project called for fashion designers, fashion design students, innovators, manufacturers, menders, and tailors from across the state willing to take in unwanted clothing and textiles to repair or make new products. Funded by the San Francisco Department of the Environment (SFE) in partnership with the California Product Stewardship Council and Goodwill of the San Francisco Bay, the project aims to strengthen California’s sustainable efforts by increasing textile waste diversion and expanding opportunities for textile reuse, repair and renovation while encouraging greater awareness of the need for a circular textile economy. 

Garment cleaning and repairing are not new industries. Repurposing clothes for commercial resale is an emerging cottage industry in the Bay Area. Savvy Green Cleaners and Designing a Difference, a contract manufacturer founded by ADM alumna Rebecca Cahua, also participated in the pilot through garment cleaning and repair.  

“We plan to expand the strong partnerships developed through this project and continue to provide the knowledge and understanding of how to keep our textiles in use,” says ADM faculty member Ivana Markova. ADM students will continue to support the project in the coming semesters through their redesign of Goodwill donated garments.

Stop by LIB 121 on September 27 between 10 a.m. and noon to learn more about the project, see garments from the project, and meet community project collaborators. Come to be inspired to take action and understand the contributions you can make to support textile life extension.