We are creating tangible change

When you bought your bag, you didn’t choose the fabric. You didn’t underpay the workers. You didn’t build the system. But it’s connected — the bag, the labor, the systems. It’s time for change.

At Public Thread, we secure textiles from across the community and transform them from waste into your new bag. We are upskilling and investing in people and a new kind of manufacturing. We are training, retaining, and investing in our people with living wages. And, building new systems, working with those companies creating waste to create new opportunities. The bag, the people, and you. We are all a part of the change.

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It starts with the people

We have an obligation, not just to our planet, but to our people. So we’re finding ways to share power, skills, and tools with people. We are training and upskilling our teams, and we’re working with the community to share these skills of sewing, pattern making, and seam repair.

Our people are a part of the product.

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We are changing the system

We throw out millions of tons of good material — billboards, signs, banners, leather, and so much more. This moment, this climate, this planet demands us to try harder – to ask more of our manufacturers, makers, and our consumers.

So, we’re building new systems that do more than reduce waste, repurposing materials to create a new form of luxury. We’re creating new markets to for sourcing. And we are giving new life to that so-called waste. We just call it,“your new bag.”

Textiles emit more greenhouse gas than all international flights and ships combined.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation, A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future (2017).

From production, through all the wash and dry cycles, to their eventual end in a landfill, textile waste is a strong contender for "worst of the worst" when it comes to environmental impact. In Michigan, only 9% of textiles are diverted from landfills or recycled / upcycled. Instead of throwing these materials away, we’re creating new products from materials that are already here. 

We do that alongside our community and our local makers. Fast Fashion practices create a race to the bottom around the world - the U.S. Department of Labor reporting wages as low as $1.58/hr domestically . By hiring and empowering local individuals, we are not only creating beautiful, ethically-made fashion products but also fostering a sense of pride, community, and ownership within our workforce. 

Creating Opportunity

Across our networks of makers, contractors, and supply chains, we've helped to support more than 100 individuals so far. As we continue to upskill and collaborate, we'll be expanding our internal team into 2024!

300,000+ lbs of waste diverted

We have diverted more than 300,000lbs since 2016. At any given time, we have approx 200,000lb of material on hand. Our goal still is to divert the 26 million lbs of textiles that go into our Kent County landfills annually by 2034 through a community based strategy.

Representative Workforce

We believe in the talent that already exists in our community. So we build intentional connections with BIPOC Communities, immigrant and refugee networks, and our nonprofit sector. And we build our own training and upskilling programs to ensure we build on-ramps, on-the-job training, revenue opportunities and employment for our neighbors that are often left out of economic development.

Just like we honor and design around the textiles that are already made, we also support the people that live and work in West Michigan

Our Partners are about action

Our partners are stepping up to create change. Alongside Public Thread, they're committed to transforming surplus textiles into bold products for their teams and customers. Our partnerships give manufacturers the tool and opportunities to build sustainability into their work. We think in systems - so we're able to bridge gaps for our municipal and nonprofit partners and change how they think about waste. And we help our corporate partners move beyond "sustainability campaigns." Our partners experience measurable, tactile, systemic change.

From the world's leading furniture and footwear brands to entire municipalities, we are proud to have worked with a wide range of companies who align with our mission to divert waste from landfills, support living wage jobs and create a circular economy. To work with us fill out the contact form below, or email upcycle@publicthread.org

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