The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, just after the oil industry, produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. Moreover, 85% of all textiles go into landfills each year. Only 15% is recycled or donated, and the rest goes directly to the landfill or is incinerated.
Upcycling has a potential to become a driving force for a change in circular economy. Upcycling can reduce the amount of the volume of discarded materials and waste being sent to landfill each year, reduce the need for production of new or raw materials which means a reduction in air pollution, water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and often a conservation of global resources. In addition it can support local and rural industry, and small businesses.
Although there are plenty of creative, skilled people interested in starting or already running a sustainable small business by producing, designing, making, creating the new goods from old materials and upcycling, as well as a lot of social groups of environmental, eco-friendly, green initiatives there is a need for unified platform to support these small businesses.
Moreover, with ever rising consumer awareness for sustainable goods there is a need to ensure the quality and reliability of such products.
In spite of growing interest in upcycling and using of discarded materials in various vocational education programs, especially in fashion and design, these practices are usually not intended to establish and accredit a new profession „creative recycler“ or new industry „sustainable craft center or manufactory“.
Responding to these needs and challenges Darnaus vystymo projektai together with partners Associazione Ruotando (IT), Daugavpils Dizaina un makslas vidusskola „Saules skola“ (LV), and Kolpingo kolegija (LT) began a project designed to develop a long-term strategic partnership and to create a unique and innovative learning and networking platform to promote education in upcycling and support small sustainable business.
The project is designed to create an online platform „Gift(ed)“ where we will introduce a new online learning course on upcycling. This platform will also serve as network for individuals and small sustainable businesses, and create a community promoting upcycling and circle economy.

Main activities of the project are the following:

  • development of learning course “Sustainability in crafts and design”;
  • development of virtual learning and networking platform Gift(ed);
  • organization of round table discussions with decision makers (at least1 in in each partner country);
  • organizations of informational dissemination events for target groups (1 in each partner country);
  • organization of final conference (1 in each partner country);
  • organization implementation of pilot group learning.

Main project results:

Virtual platform Gift(ed) – Virtual learning and networking platform will be developed as a tool to first of all organize learning course, as online course will be more accessible to participants in all partner countries and latter all across Europe than face to face training. It will also serve as network for sustainable crafters, artists and repair services, thus promoting them towards general public, ensuring quality and sustainability of their production, while also educating general public on upcycling, circle economy and promoting green thinking.

Learning course “Sustainability in crafts and design” – This course will prepare students to discover and implement sustainable and innovative crafting and design solutions. The innovation and need for the learning course lies in the fact that no such consistent and comprehensive programme exists for students, crafters or artists wiling to develop competencies in upcycling and sustainable crafts exists. In spite of growing interest in upcycling and using of discarded materials in various vocational education programs, especially in fashion and design, there is lack of defined course and programme, available to all interested individuals despite their location. Virtual learning programe will be available on the platform „Gift(ed) and is expected to contribute to the development of new skills and promotion of sustainability and green thinking.