Tennessee Tech Human Ecology students celebrate Earth Day

COOKEVILLE – In celebration of Earth Day, students in The School of Human Ecology at Tennessee Tech University are exploring ways to upcycle and reuse items in the fashion industry.

The fashion and textile industry is reported to be the second-largest polluter in the world, just behind oil and it is quickly approaching becoming the largest polluter.

“We have created a very disposable culture around fabric and textile elements because of fast fashion. The idea of, ‘I will wear this and wear it two times, and it gets a hole, who cares’ and throw it in the trash can,” Hannah Upole, Assistant Professor of Merchandising and Design, said. “Instead of extending the life of a textile, we send it to a landfill where it takes thousands of years to degrade, if at all.”

The students in Upole’s textile class were tasked with creating multiple windows displays that were centered around different aspects of Earth Day. The window displays include deforestation, composting, saving energy and water.

“This is helping us learn how to create an actual display window using merchandising techniques firsthand and by hand and makes others aware of the importance of sustainability,” said Mia Ward, housing and design major.

Students in the Fashion Merchandising Association also hosted a tabling event on Thursday, April 21, to teach students methods of clothing recycling.

“The students demonstrated how you can take a T-shirt and turn it into pillows or make little fabric bags, and they also gave away clothing patches,” Upole said.

“We are trying to show that you can reuse items for multiple purposes, to try and not reverse because it is hard to reverse, but to stop where we are at and slow down the pace we are seeing in the textile industry,” she said.

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