Ambassador Hester got to know vzw Verzamelwoede and tells more about it
What happens to our discarded clothes? With a bit of luck it ends up in a second-hand shop, but unfortunately it is often different. VZW Verzamelwoede, founded in the summer of 2020 by Lennert Goessens and Sumit Bunthanon, wants to change this. They recognise the great challenge that exists, but are determined to help make the clothing industry circular, step by step.
For Lennert and Sumit, as for many other young people, clothing plays an important role in expressing themselves. However, their passion for fashion went hand in hand with a growing concern about the negative impact the clothing industry has. On the one hand, they wanted to start their own brand, but on the other, they realised that there is no need for another new clothing brand. What the market needs are new ways of designing and producing/consuming clothes.
Setting up a non-profit organisation meant the least financial risk for them, while it gave them the prestige they needed to realise various projects. These include organising workshops that are open to everyone. The first one took place recently in Ghent and taught a group of eight enthusiasts the “Tatakizome” technique.
Tatakizome is a traditional Japanese technique in which you use flowers and plants to make prints on textiles. By hitting freshly picked plants with a hammer, the juices are released, which then transfer their colours to the textile. Gradually, the shape appears and you can create colourful motifs. Then you fix the print so that it is washable and the colours do not fade. This simple technique offers endless possibilities for giving old garments a new life, hiding stains or personalising a simple fabric. Moreover, it also brings you in touch with nature in your own environment.
Teaching such techniques to a diverse audience is just one aspect of their non-profit organisation. In addition, the founders also call on you to throw away clothes you no longer wear in their clothing container (which you can find at Broei, in the heart of Ghent). Lennert and Sumit then give a new life to these discarded pieces by selling them or by using various up- and recycling techniques to create new designs with them. Would you like to earn some extra money yourself? Then take part in one of their closetsales. The next one takes place in Ghent on Sunday 8 August, for which you can easily reserve a place via their Facebook page. Looking for nice pieces? Then be sure to stop by and shop from other people’s closets.
In everything they do, the common thread is: reconsider how you buy, and especially what you do with your clothes when you no longer wear them. Because “there is no away“. A quote you may have heard before and one that brings us face to face with the fact that there is no such thing as “away“. The current linear system is problematic and has shown in various ways worldwide that it does not work for the planet and people.
The ultimate goal is circularity: what one sees as waste, another sees as a raw material. A goal Lennert and Sumit strive for with their initiatives. They start locally, in order to eventually build a network of different actors. Quite a challenge, but they do not think in doom and gloom, on the contrary. Optimism and accessibility are what it is all about. Sustainability is an ongoing evolution, a conversation and above all a collaboration that involves everyone. Including you!
Does it also tickle your fancy to be part of the sustainable evolution? Follow the organisation on Instagram or on Facebook. If you have any questions, you can always send Lennert and Sumit an email via firstname.lastname@example.org.