In just three and a half years, Debbie Ouyang and Julie Benniardi have collected over 11,000 pounds of fabric from Los Angeles’ interior design showrooms. The Pasadena-based team behind fashion and home brand Reweave LA stores some of these fabrics in their respective homes and more in their warehouse. They transform these fabric remnants into luxurious patchwork pillows and cushions, comfortable, puppy-friendly BFF beds for pets and smart, upholstered stools.
Reweave LA began when Ouyang asked Benniardi, an interior designer, what happens to the specimens in the showrooms after the seasons have passed. Benniardi dug a little and found that while some drugs have been donated to art and design schools, much was discarded.
“We thought it would be such a big waste to throw these beautiful pieces away,” Benniardi says.
Today, you can find Reweave LA pieces through the company’s website, in designer showrooms in Los Angeles and New York, and in select stores like Hollis in San Marino.
By reusing samples, Reweave LA offers ready-made pieces that use fabrics typically used in specialty work. And since the amount of specific substances is limited, pieces can be unique. More importantly, though, Reweave LA keeps some textiles out of the local waste stream, and that’s important.
Whether you are buying upcycled products, saving with home decor or renovating what you already own, remodeling your home with another life is an ideal way to reduce the amount of waste in our clogged waste streams. According to 2018 figures from the EPA, around 11.3 million tonnes of textile waste ends up in landfills. While much of that weight comes from clothing, home furnishings also contribute to transportation. The same report indicated that over a million tonnes of towels, sheets and pillowcases go to landfills. Meanwhile, when it came to durable goods – a category that includes appliances, furniture and carpets – over 37 million tonnes went to landfills.
Reduction of the footprint
Upcycling is not only good for keeping things away from the trash. “Most of a product’s CO2 footprint currently comes from the first time that product was produced,” says Suay Sew Shop founder Lindsay Rose Medoff, who has been working on remanufactured and upcycled fashion and home furnishings for 17 years.
On the banks of the Frogtown stretch of the LA River, the Suay Sew Shop manufactures and sells a variety of household items, from napkins to body pillows, from textiles that might otherwise become garbage. They pick up fabrics from vintage and deadstock items as well as from local post-consumer waste that is brought in through their own recycling program. The textiles are also used to give a facelift to used furniture. In addition to their ready-made goods, Suay also handles special tasks, such as upholstery and quilt making, with upcycled fabric.
If you are considering environmental impact when shopping for your home, it is good to buy items made with sustainable materials, but it is better to buy items made from things that already exist. But as Medoff points out, there is a downside to the market for remanufactured or upcycled goods. “It prices most people out,” she says. This is a problem for anyone who wants to use their consumer power to support earth-friendly practices, but whose budget only allows mass-produced goods for sale in large checkout stores.
Suay is working to make upcycled home goods more accessible through a few different programs. One is the Community Color Bath. Each month, the store offers a few different colors to color your items. Customers bring their own clothes, towels and sheets and pay $ 16 per person. pounds to get it added to the bath. Meanwhile, Suay’s repair and modification program has become a popular way for customers to revive their torn duvets, which the company’s skilled sewers can repair in ways that suit your personal style.
Upcycling your own household items is, of course, a budget-friendly way to create less waste. But what if you do not know how to revive your home furnishings?
Restore the old
In Glendora, Michele Rivard has been teaching people how to do it for over a decade.
Rivard is the owner of Knot Too Shabby, where she sells the vintage finds she renovates, as well as do-it-yourself supplies. “What my real goal is to encourage people and give them the opportunity to do it themselves,” she says. Knot Too Shabby offers workshops for people of all levels to learn basic and more advanced painting techniques.
“Most people take a painting course because they not only have a single project to do, but they have many projects to work on,” she says, adding that people often work on sentimental things and want to make sure they repaint them properly. Rivard says that even more than environmental considerations, people are motivated to hang on to older pieces because of the quality of items made before the rapid furniture era. “You have good pieces that are going to live well and have proven that they can withstand all that life has to offer, and that is not the case with new furniture that you pick up from Ashley Furniture or Living Spaces,” she says.
So, she says, there is the feeling that comes with being able to do what one already has.
“It feels good to take something you have that you don’t like and turn it into something you love,” she says. “There’s a lot of personal satisfaction in having completed it yourself.”