The Remesh tailoring workshop found a solution against one of the largest sources of pollution worldwide while demonstrating that excluded and marginalized individuals are valuable resources to society.
Bags, backpacks, waist packs, and other home accessories could be admired at the exhibition De pe clădire, pe umăr”, the first exhibition through which the Remesh workshop, a sheltered unit for people with disabilities within the Ateliere Fără Frontiere (AFF) Association, promotes both environmentally friendly products and the work of individuals with disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds. The association makes every effort to reintegrate them into society.
Considering the social, economic, and ecological impact of product manufacturing, Damien Thiery, CEO of AFF, explained the benefits of authentic sustainable fashion on the environment and how it encourages conscious and responsible consumption.
“The principles of sustainable fashion include, among others, the use of environmentally friendly materials and processes, recycling and reusing materials, reducing carbon emissions, and supporting local production. Through Remesh’s actions, we take responsibility for the environment and promote a more sustainable future,” he explained.
The proof lies in the way the employees of the Remesh workshop, who come from disadvantaged groups with multiple social, educational, and health challenges (victims of domestic violence or human trafficking, homeless individuals, those deprived of liberty, people with disabilities), breathe new life into banners and advertising meshes, which are tons of plastic with no alternative for recycling. They transform them into objects with unique designs.
“Advertising banners contain chemicals that infiltrate the soil over time, while the number of these advertising materials is very high, and their lifespan is very short. In the Remesh workshop, we recover these banners and transform them into sustainable and ethical products, giving the banner materials a chance at a new life. We have customers who, for example, have been using Remesh’s durable and spacious bags, made from upcycled banners, instead of daily single-use plastic bags for over four years,” Damien Thiery stated.
Moreover, from a regular outdoor billboard, depending on the bag model, the employees of the Remesh workshop can produce between 30 and 75 bags.
Ateliere Fără Frontiere is an NGO in Romania that have a socio-professional support program for hard-to-employ individuals to facilitate their integration into the labor market. Specifically, the association provides adults with a pilot job where they acquire essential skills, learn a new trade, become accustomed to teamwork and daily work schedules. Additionally, they receive counseling for their future, advice and assistance in resolving personal and administrative issues, and encouragement to gain self-confidence.
The employees in the Remesh tailoring workshop are adults who are difficult to employ and are recommended by other social organizations. They learn to prepare advertising materials for sewing, cut patterns, and sew the new products. Since the emphasis is on utilizing materials in sustainable products, the production process aims to minimize the use of purchased accessories, avoiding straps or buckles. “We don’t want to produce more waste; we need to waste as little material as possible. Everything is reused, and the remaining scraps from cutting are shredded and used as filling for stools,” explain the representatives of AFF.
In over 15 years of activity, Remesh has collected over 36 tons of advertising waste and crafted over 72,000 products. In everything they do, the people at the Remesh workshop adhere to the principles of sustainable development, social and solidarity economy, circular economy, and fair trade. For instance, the workshop has an environmental impact by reducing waste and pollution, reusing out-of-home advertising materials (banners, meshes, flags), and transforming them into promotional products, fashion accessories, and home decor items. Each Remesh product is unique, crafted by hand, and has a long lifespan. Moreover, it represents a statement of sustainability for those who want to purchase promotional products with minimal environmental impact and contribute to the integration of individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.