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Something Old, Something New

Students put recycled fabric to use for good cause

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Students in Dr. Lydia Burak’s Environmental/Consumer Health class at Bridgewater State University aren’t content to just study environmental woes. They’re taking action.
Student works on a sewing machine
The students, under the tutelage of Costume Director Kellsy MacKilligan of the Theater and Dance departments, made about 30 bags during the fall and spring semesters from leftover fabric.

With storage space in the university’s Costume Shop at a premium, MacKilligan couldn’t keep all the fabric. She wanted to find a new use for the material rather than throw it away.
“It seemed like something useful,” she said of creating bags. “It seemed simple enough to make. You’re basically sewing straight lines. Someone who hasn’t sewn before would have a fairly easy time with it.”

The project also brings people into the shop who otherwise wouldn’t know about this campus resource.

Burak, a professor in the Department of Movement Arts, Health Promotion and Leisure Studies, has her students complete environmental service projects, and this one fit perfectly. In class, they learned about water consumption, pollution, and other environmental problems caused by textile production.

“We contribute a lot to the degradation of the planet by our overconsumption and consumerism that somehow drives us to keep purchasing things,” Burak said.

Although students sewed in comfortable conditions, they learned about workers in sweatshops who have it much harder.

Rory Mizell, ’20, a health studies major from Brockton, hopes the project raises awareness about sweatshops and recycling.
A sample of one of the bags created by BSU students

“It’s important to (recycle) because there’s a lot of stuff being thrown away that can still be used,” he said.

Rory and Madalyn Maloney, ’20, said Burak’s class makes them think differently about what they throw away.

“I feel like I’m helping make a difference, even if it’s a small difference,” Madalyn, a health studies major from Rockland, said of making the bags. “Every little bit does help.”

The class plans to sell the bags at the Student Arts & Research Symposium on April 29 in the Moakley-Hart-Burnell complex. Sales will support BSU’s Center for Sustainability. (Photos and video by Kelsea Marciarelli, '19)

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