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Artwork for episode 133

133 Re-Action – repurposing: a new life for unwanted stuff

This is the 4th and final episode in the special 5th Anniversary mini-series featuring the Re-Action Collective, and we’re focusing on repurposing – using creativity and craft skills to breathe new life into unwanted outdoor gear, clothing and workwear.
We’ll hear from the founders of two small repurposing businesses:
First, Jen Dickinson, founder of Dirtbags Climbing, an upcycling workshop in the English Lake District, which turns retired outdoor textiles into hand-made bags.
And secondly, Beccy Evans, founder of Utilifolk, who gives things fresh appeal and new life by re-working unwanted garments that are no longer fit for their original use, and makes new pieces from preloved and remnant textiles.
Ironically, nearly every outdoor gear brand uses sophisticated marketing to hijack our brain chemicals, encouraging us to buy yet more stuff to do the things we love, to excel and enjoy them. And yet, those same things, when discarded, are destroying the very essence of the places and living things we love so much.
We discuss the ethos and design principles for their businesses, why we need to avoid sucked into the ‘fast-fashion’ and ‘compartmentalising’ approaches of brands that want to sell more stuff, and how repurposing can help people create their own identity, instead of looking like they’re wearing other people’s stuff.
Rebecca Heaps, founder of Tentshare, who we met in Episode 131, says “when we buy 2nd hand, the earth breaths a sigh of relief” – and I think that applies to repurposed things, too. Everything we do to keep our clothes, tools and equipment alive is a way to sustain life on earth – for us, and for the future of our living world. And of course, emotional engagement and well-crafted kit helps Re-Action’s mission to make the outdoors more affordable and accessible.