The handmade PPE movement demonstrates the resourcefulness of humankind

It's revealed to us how simple it is to let go of our habitual consumerism and learn how to be resourceful when we have to.

Words by Louis Oliver


eing human, we're pretty good at being what we have to be when we need to be. During World War Two, women developed the skills to make do with what they had to make and preserve things to increase an item's life cycle. The British Ministry of Information created a guide with tips and ideas to reusing old clothes in times of rationing. It was intended to provide homemakers with helpful tips on how to be economical and stylish in the hard times they experienced.

Looking at today, you'll see a similar pattern emerging. Since our frontline workers have been overwhelmingly underequipped in the face of the pandemic, they had to resort to make-shift equipment, before medical PPE became available. Then, fashion brands took on the initiative to produce custom PPE from the leftover fabrics from their production lines. Since the announcement from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended that the public should wear cloth fabric masks, designers, and brands stepped up to make and sell facial coverings.

Social media immersed with DIY tutorials of how to make facial coverings with what you have at home without realising that they're upcycling. This is what I call "invisible sustainability". During this epidemic, we need to rethink and redesign the systems and rules that are failing us with circularity at the forefront.

At the heart of this upcycling movement is reusability. The thinking behind this movement is igniting opportunities to apply this thinking and to create a systemic impact on the future of consumerist behaviours.