In just three and a half years, Debbie Ouyang and Julie Benniardi collected more than 11,000 pounds of fabric from interior design showrooms across Los Angeles. The Pasadena-based team behind fashion and home goods brand Reweave LA stock some of these textiles in their respective homes and more in their warehouse. They transform these scraps of fabric into luxury patchwork pillows and throws, comfy, pet-friendly puppy-friendly BFF beds, and chic upholstered stools.
Reweave LA began when Ouyang asked Benniardi, an interior designer, what happened to fabric swatches in showrooms after seasons passed. Benniardi did some research and discovered that while some fabrics were donated to art and design schools, much of it was thrown away.
“We thought it would be a huge waste to throw away these beautiful pieces,” says Benniardi.
Today, you can find Reweave LA pieces on the company’s website, in designer showrooms in Los Angeles and New York, and select boutiques like Hollis in San Marino.
By recycling samples, Reweave LA offers ready-made pieces using fabrics that are typically used in custom work. And since the quantity of specific fabrics is limited, pieces can be unique. Most importantly, Reweave LA keeps certain textiles out of the local waste stream and that’s important.
Whether you’re buying upcycled products, saving money for home decor, or renovating what you already own, sprucing up your home with second-life items is a perfect way to reduce the amount of waste in our waste streams. obstructed. According to 2018 figures from the EPA, about 11.3 million tons of textile waste ends up in landfills. Although much of this weight comes from clothing, household items also contribute to transportation. The same report said more than a million tons of towels, sheets and pillowcases were heading to landfills. Meanwhile, when it comes to durable goods – a category that includes appliances, furniture and carpets – more than 37 million tonnes have gone to landfill.
Reduce the footprint
Upcycling isn’t just good for keeping things out of the trash. “The majority of an item’s carbon footprint currently comes from the first time that item is produced,” says Lindsay Rose Medoff, founder of Suay Sew Shop, who has been working in repurposed and upcycled fashion and homeware for 17 years.
On the bank of the Frogtown stretch of the LA River, Suay Sew Shop makes and sells a variety of home goods, from towels to body pillows, textiles that might otherwise be thrown away. They source their fabrics from vintage and unsold items, as well as from local post-consumer waste brought in through their own recycling program. Textiles are also used to give used furniture a facelift. In addition to their ready-made items, Suay also handles custom work, like upholstery and quilt making, using recycled fabric.
If you consider environmental impact when shopping for your home, buying items made with sustainably sourced materials is good, but buying items made from things that already exist is better. But as Medoff points out, the market for remanufactured or recycled products has a downside. “It costs the majority of people,” she says. That’s a problem for anyone who wants to use their purchasing power to support eco-friendly practices, but whose budget only allows for mass-produced items for sale in big-box stores.
Suay strives to make recycled household items more accessible through a few different programs. One is the community dye bath. Each month the shop has a few different colors available to dye your items. Customers bring their clothes, towels and linens, paying $16 a pound to add them to the bath. Meanwhile, Suay’s Repair and Alteration Program has become a popular way for customers to revive their torn quilts, which the company’s trained seamstresses can repair in a way that suits your personal style.
Recycling your own household items is of course an economical way to create less waste. But what if you don’t know how to revive your household items?
Redo the old
At Glendora, Michèle Rivard has been teaching people how to do this for over a decade.
Rivard is the owner of Knot Too Shabby, where she sells vintage finds that she refurbishes, as well as craft supplies. “My real goal is to encourage people and empower them to do it themselves,” she says. Knot Too Shabby offers workshops for people of all skill levels to learn basic and more advanced painting techniques.
“Most people take a painting class because they don’t just have one project to do, but they have a lot of projects to work on,” she says, adding that people often work on objects sentimental and want to make sure they’re repainting them properly. Rivard says that even more than environmental concerns, people are motivated to keep older pieces because of the quality of items made before the era of fast furniture. “You have good pieces that will live well and have proven they can withstand whatever life throws at them and that’s not the case with the new furniture you buy from Ashley Furniture or Living Spaces,” says -she.
Then, she says, there’s the feeling of being able to redo what you already have.
“It feels good to take something you don’t like and turn it into something you like,” she says. “There’s a lot of personal satisfaction in having completed this yourself.”