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"Investigating the Upcycling Potential of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in Fashion"

Personal protective equipments, or PPEs, are used worldwide across a number of industries, the most notable being the construction industry. In the United Kingdom, 1,650 tonnes of PPEs are consumed per year, but surprisingly, 90% of this is sent to landfill – this equates to 1,500 worth of old PPEs being put to waste annually.

This is a huge problem and has a large impact on the environment.

To help address this problem, I decided to embark on a project to upcycle used PPEs to reduce the amount of PPEs that are put to waste.

My journey started with a visit to Bristol Textile Recyclers, a clothing recycling center based in Bristol. There, I purchased 30 kilograms of used PPEs, which included protective vests, jackets, and trousers.

These were then cleaned and de-stitched, and the resulting fabric was cut manually into panels. Handles were then sewn on to the fabric, and a bag was made.

This was the moment the label AFTERWORK was born.

While incorporating original features of the PPEs to give an accent of their origin, these bags have an urban look yet are functional and durable. They come in a number of styles, including tote bag, backpack, shopping bag, and knapsack.

What’s more important is that these items were made from discarded PPEs which were bound for landfill, and AfterWork has given them a second life as fashionable bags. The use of these bags leads to sustainable fashion and helps save our planet.