January 05, 2016

Recycling with the Hand Loom

How to make use of garment factory offcuts and prevent from ending up in landfill? Well, one way is to combine with a traditional Thai hand loom to create a unique and totally useful material that we love using to make eco-friendly bags and accessories. But there's more to it than that. A group of elderly ladies from the San Kum Paeng district in the northern city of Chiang Mai see the value in waste and its recycling. With a number of garment factories in the area, scrap material is easy to come by. Unfortunately, the garment making process is far from efficient and  generates large amounts of cut and sew waste  These ladies, looking for a way to keep busy while earning some income, saw an opportunity to source a material that is essentially free, and by thinking outside of the box and using their existing skills, have been able to adapt the hand loom to transform offcuts into a new fabric. As well as being extremely light and durable, the nature of the fabric is such that no two items made with it are identical in appearance. This occurs because fabric offcuts consist of many different patterns and colours. They are cut into strips and then tied together at random, before being loomed into the new fabric with its distinctive rainbow appearance. This hand loomed, recycled fabric is relatively rare in its supply. It is time intensive to make and the skill and experience required to operate the loom is limited to a few. Hopefully, value added recycling could be the incentive for younger generations to want to learn to use the hand loom before the skill is lost forever. Take a look at some of the products we craft from this recycled material here.