I live in the Caribbean on a small island called Barbados. Because of our location and ocean currents, we feel the impacts of global pollution directly. Environmental groups organize beach clean-ups every so often because lots of trash washes up all around the island. To us, global plastic pollution seems like a big bad wolf that we will never be able to conquer. It’s very easy to feel defeated; to feel like there’s nothing big enough we can do to make a change. But as we say here in the Caribbean, “One one blow does kill old cow!”
Did you know that we produce about 300 million tons of plastic waste globally every year? That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population! Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. Obviously, it may not be possible for us to cut out plastic in its entirety. I mean, I personally still use a plastic toothbrush and my bread comes in a plastic bag from the shop; I even have one or two sodas every now and then. What’s important is how we choose to dispose of our plastic waste.
Some countries have recycling plants and that is awesome! But did you know that you can also do your own recycling at home? We all have various super cool talents! That means we can channel our creativity down a path that allows just a tad of recycling here and there. It really doesn’t matter how small a project; all efforts count and contribute to making a change. As creatives, we hold so much power in our hands without realizing it. So think long and hard about how you can use your talent to #beatplasticpollution.
My name is Keira and I am a trashion designer. Trashion (a portmanteau of “trash” and “fashion”) is a term for art, jewelry, fashion, and objects for the home created from used, thrown-out, found and re purposed elements. I’ve made outfits completely out of recycled materials, but the truth is, sometimes these pieces are not suitable for everyday wear, but rather for runway shows and exhibitions. For this project, I wanted to demonstrate how a little garbage can spruce up a plain blazer, and at the same time, not take away from its ‘wearability’.
I used the Mimi G for Simplicity 1167 pattern to make my blazer. The fabrics are stretch twill for the body and crepe backed satin for contrast. The embellishments which take this blazer up a notch are made from glass beads, sequins, home-recycled plastic bottles, and plastic marine debris/ocean trash! Can you believe it? I used the soda bottles to create delicate and beautiful flowers that resemble embroidery, and now they feature in this piece of wearable art. One thing I love about trashion is how unique the pieces turn out; I mean I’ve never seen a blazer with 3D embroidery like this before! It’s just stunning!
Here are the instructions to make your own plastic bottle embellishments:
- Wash your bottle and take off the label.
- Print or draw flower and leaf templates in different sizes
- Cut the smooth flat part of the bottle using a blade or scissors
- Trace your templates using a marker or pen
- Cut out your traced templates
- Hold them over a flame to curl the edges. We don’t want to melt the plastic so don’t hold it too close nor too long.
- Use a heating tool or soldering iron to poke holes in the center of your flowers and stem of your leaves.
- Stack a smaller flower onto a larger flower and attach to your garment using needle and thread and a bead to hold it in place.
- Attach the leaves using needle and thread as well.
I felt like such a #bossbabe in this blazer! Not just because it’s a black blazer of course, but because I had the luxury of choosing the embellishments. I was in control of the materials. I held the power in my hands and I realized it! There’s just this amazing and unexplainable feeling you get when you couple your talent and creativity with your power of choice to do something so great; to do something that fuels change; to do something that sparks meaningful conversation. The same way we proudly wear commercially branded apparel, we can also wear clothing that promotes a message for sustainability. How will you use your talent to influence change? Let me know in the comments below!
P.S. Follow me on Instagram @islandsewcialist and visit my blog www.islandsewcialist.com to see what crazy ideas I think of next!
Be sure to tag your sustainable makes with #sustainablesewcialists in Instagram!
You are such a bossbabe in this jacket! I live in California, where we regularly sweep the beach to keep trash from entering the ocean, and we analyze it to try and pass legislation to prevent it to begin with. For instance 2-3 years ago we attacked the problem of Styrofoam and now my town and most of the ones around it don’t sell it any more, so the tourists aren’t sending it out to you because all their picnics come in that. This year we’re making progress with straws. Still, it would have been easier if we hadn’t made all this garbage in the first place, eh? Sorry your beautiful island is on the receiving end
Thank you! I totally agree.. Styrofoam needs to be banned worldwide. Barbados will be banning Styrofoam and other single use plastics in 2019. My home island St. Vincent already did that as well. It sucks that our small islands are on the receiving end but we are doing what we can to alleviate the problem.
OMG that is the most amazing jacket ever. You look fantastic in it and the embellishment would be fantastic even if it was sewn from store bought items. However, making it from recycled materials takes the whole garment into fabulousness.
Thank you so much Rebecca! This was actually my first time doing embellishment of this magnitude. Now I am inspired to do regular embellishment all the time now. It was such a fun project!
This is amazing, you are a genious!
Thanks Becky! Not sure I would call myself a genious though.. but your comment means alot! 🙂
that is fantastic! so beautiful and even more so because of the recycled materials.
Thanks so much Beth! I think so as well… the recycled materials really add something special to this blazer!
I would have never guessed that you made those flowers with garbage!! That jacket is STUNNING and this whole idea is so clever. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you so much Heather! I am so happy I was able to share. I hope this inspired you in some way!
Your jacket is stunning & to repeat what others have said, I would have never guessed that the embellishments were handmade or recycled. Kudos to you! Your work is lovely! Keep up the good work and keep sharing. I saw your post on FB & followed the link to your blog. Thanks again, love reading about this.
Thank you so much for your support Susan! I am thrilled that you enjoyed the read. Every time I look at the photos, I too can’t believe the embellishments were handmade and recycled, although I made them. 🙂 I could not be happier with how it turned out.
This is so cool! The flowers look almost like glass. But much more washable. It’s a very creative reuse.
Thanks! A very unexpected form of bling I’d say… definitely looks more like glass than plastic bottles at first glance. 🙂
I can’t saw WOW enough times !!
I live on Oahu, and the plastic and nets in our waters come all over the beaches.
It’s so sad
Thank you! Yes we island people really suffer. It’s so refreshing to be able to use that marine debris in a positive way.
Well done. This is awesome.
This is absolutely amazing! I love everything about this blazer. It is a major boss babe garment.
Thanks Michelle! I’m not sure I ever had that boss babe feeling before wearing this blazer. I guess that’s one thing to cross off my to do list for this year – channeled my inner boss babe for a day 🙂
This is amazing! I had no idea it was possible to do this sort of thing with waste plastic, and I love the jacket.
Thank you so much Janet! There is a lot of room for creativity in the world of recycling. I hope my post inspired you in some way!
Such a fantastic project! It looks amazing! I was in Barbados on my honeymoon and it will always have a very special place in my heart. That is why when you talk about the rubbish ending up there from around the world, it’s really makes me so sad. But it’s so lovely to see how you have come up with a solution that is both creative and will help raise awareness! I wish there were any beach cleans going on when we were there, I would have loved to lend a hand!
Thanks Alex! So awesome that you’ve honeymooned here! We’ve had quite a number of beach cleanups in recent months especially because of the sargassum seaweed that came to our shores in abundance. We found lots of trash entangled in the seaweed. We also get a lot of ocean trash deposited during storms. It’s so great to know you are willing to lend a hand. It’s quite difficult to get people on board.
Beautiful! Well done! Please share more! <3
[…] Refashioning Becky’s dress turned pattern hacked top Jewelene’s dress turned two piece Kiera’s amazing ocean trash embellishments* […]
Absolutely outstanding! And not only are your embellishments beautiful and sustainable, they look to be (carefully) washable too! Great job on the Mimi G jacket also, by the way… 🙂
[…] Keira’s Ocean Trash Upcycle was dear to my heart. I am an island girl too and everytime I go home, its total heartbreak when I visit some of the remote beaches completely littered by garbage and seeing Keira’s approach to make change one garment at a time is just incredible, encouraging and inspiring. […]
Beautifully creative ! – and a ‘save our oceans warrior’ too. You are an inspiration on many levels.
[…] Next up, is Keira a fellow Caribbean blogger from Barbados. Keira made this embellished jacket using recycled materials as the embellishments. I couldn’t believe that those pieces were recycled plastic bottles and ocean trash. Isn’t it stunning? I can’t wait to see what else she creates. Read more here. […]
[…] This content was originally published here. […]
[…] Upcycled ocean trash turned decoration for a fabulous garment […]
Thanks for sharing! I love your embellished blazer.
Your creation is absolutely gorgeous! I cannot believe the embellishments are plastic bottles, they look so delicate, and beautiful colours too!
Stunning and inspiring!
Those embellishments are so impressive. Thank you for sharing your techniques. Love your trashion.