JEDDAH: Every year tons of clothes and textiles are discarded in the Kingdom in landfills and recycling bins — or upcycled by charity groups.
Saudi charitable associations have launched initiatives to help upcycle these unwanted items, which also helps to promote a more sustainable environment.
In 2018, Saudi recycling service Kiswa began working with charities to help safely dispose of surplus clothes, while also promoting a spirit of solidarity and community cooperation to protect the environment and support other charities.
Kiswa has connections with an Islamic concept about wearing new clothes for Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha called Kiswat Al-Eid when everyone, rich or poor, dresses up in new clothes.
The service also helps to create new income opportunities for charities through partnerships with the public and private sectors to meet Vision 2030 goals on supporting profit and nonprofit sectors.
Kiswa CEO Salem Derbah said the project helped to reduce the trouble and cost for people and charities when collecting spare clothes. The project also benefits from recyclable but damaged garments.
Kiswa has an entire crew dedicated to collecting, sorting, preparing and delivering clothes to associations. It also encourages the concept of volunteering among Saudi youth, completing 40 distribution initiatives so far, according to Derbah.
The project collects surplus clothes from people wishing to dispose of or donate their clothes and textiles through an app.
Donations are then sorted and classified. The well-preserved and new ones are distributed to beneficiaries, while damaged items are recycled for the benefit of the project.
Proceeds go to charities and toward supporting environment-related initiatives.
At Kiswa, excessive amounts of garments and clothes are sorted and taken apart according to material, type, and color, then converted back into fiber and transformed into a new product with minimal waste, Derbah said
“We have contracted with over 27 certified social development associations from around the Kingdom, including Tarahum Charity Foundation, Al-Oula Women’s Charitable Society and more,” he told Arab News.
Nonprofit Al-Oula has also contributed to this movement.
“Lately we have been working with different designers including local ones to produce sustainable fashion including collaborations with Saudi Arabia’s leading fashion designers such as Nasiba Hafiz, Zakiya Attar, Hunaidah Serafi. The idea was to use the materials we have, to be sustainable, and come up with designs that sell where all the profit will go toward supporting the organization,” Al-Oula CEO Dania Al-Maeena told Arab News.
Al-Oula has initiated projects for young women, children’s education, and others for women in the fashion industry, such as facilitating opportunities to develop sewing skills.
“It was great and lovely to work with designers and to see how creative they can be with all the fabrics that we have, because they come up with the idea, and we have the ladies who will sew using the designs and the fabric we have, to be more sustainable,” Al-Maeena said.
“I think this is a new thing that we need to think about and take into consideration. It has been great to collaborate with these Saudi initiatives to reach our goal, especially with Kiswa who are doing the whole recycle, upcycle (thing) and they come up with nice garments. We are looking to do more with different designers, and we have recently signed an agreement with Hasanat.”
Hasanat, another fashion-related Saudi charity association, links empowerment and creative charity work. It collects donated garments, and cleans, categorises, and irons all fabrics to offer an end-to-end platform for women to be independent and earn a sustainable income while working from home.
The charity also gives women the chance to collaborate, learn new skills, and repurpose old clothes into new, sellable products with sleek designs that are as attractive as known-brand products with a similar price range.
All Hasanat products are made from repurposed and recycled materials.
One of the environmentally friendly and creative ideas offered by Hasanat is it ensures less fabric goes to waste annually by taking all leftover material and sewing it into warm blankets or quilts and distributing them to families in need.