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Fair Sewing and Understanding

Today we would like to give you some insight into our project "Fair Sewing and Understanding". The project is financed by Engagement Global, the Stiftung Nord-Süd-Brücken and Brot für die Welt. The project is aimed at young people of all backgrounds and seeks to inform them regarding the United Nations (UN)’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2015, the UN issued 17 Sustainable Development Goals under the 2030 Agenda. These 17 goals are addressed to all states worldwide and have the objective of sustainable economic development bringing economic progress into synthesis with social justice and the protection of the world's environment. More detailed information about the UN’s SDGs can be found here.

We try to bring this subject to the awareness of young people with our project "Fair Sewing and Understanding". In doing so, we place particular emphasis on Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG 12): Responsible consumption and production.

Sustainable consumption is something that affects all people around the world, but something also that we often pay too little attention to in our comfortable everyday lives. As such, it goes to each of us to make small steps and change our own behaviour in thinking a little more about our consumption in the context of the UN’s SDGs. Using the textile industry as an example as well as the impact of our consumption, we enable young people to reflect on their purchasing behaviours and gain an understanding of the different stages from textile production to sales. There are both theoretical and practical components. We are happy now to give you some initial insight into each of these topics:

Introduction to the topic: SDGs of the UN

In the theoretical part, we seek conversation. After an explanation about the UN’s SDGs, we ask young people which person(s) are involved in the production of garment. Even such a simple question leads quickly to reflection and understanding. The first answer is usually seamstresses, then salespeople. Step by step, the young people then get around to considering the large numbers of other persons involved in the process: from direct participants, like the cotton pickers, their supervisors, those working in the spinning mill, dyeing or weaving mill, to those less directly involved, such as the marketing directors of major international corporations. This immense number of people involved leads to the obvious question of how much the persons who work on a single t-shirt (which often costs only 2-3 euros) earn, often to perplexed stares. Already at this point, the young people are sensitised and realise how important their own responsible behaviour is in the context of the SDGs.

Sew yourself and understand

In the practical part of the programme, the young people can then get to know the individual stages of textile production more personally. For example, they sew simple clothing items such as hats and scarves. Here, via working with the sewing machine, they learn how much time is needed to produce clothing articles. Even a cap or a scarf with only a few pieces required significantly more work than the adolescents previously thought. Even more complex sewing projects including articles of clothing and the design of one’s own clothing styles were possible during this project. In addition, we look at the upstream production steps of clothing, such as the production and dyeing of fabrics, as well as the piecing together of different materials via practical exercises.

The young people learn with a playful smile and joy. The project "Fair Sewing and Understanding" is intended to inform and educate, but also to be fun, so that young people think about their consumption behaviour in a more sustainable way down the road – and optimally change their own behaviours and share their experiences and findings with others.

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