Tuesday 25th October 2016                 Change text size:

Prisoners’ ethical fashion launches in the UK

heavy eco

Fashion label Heavy Eco has combined sustainable fashion with rehabilitating criminals, with Eastern European prisoners creating their own organic T-shirts and making bags from recycled billboards. Charlotte Reid has more.

It is one of the least likely places to find fashionable and ethical clothing, yet Heavy Eco is recruiting prisoners to help design and make sustainable clothing.

The concept of sustainable clothing and accessories is not a new one – some wallets, bags and laptop cases have already been made by reusing discarded billboards and other unwanted materials that have just been thrown away.

But in this case, Heavy Eco has created something not usually associated with caring for the environment.

The company believes that the reason why people go to jail lies in their childhood. In order to help the situation, as well as paying the convicts for their work, Heavy Eco donate 50% of their profits to help homeless and orphanage children. The project was also helped by the European Social Fund, the employment arm of the EU who was co-financing the project.

The convicts are keen to help out in order to challenge the assumption that people in prison are lost or seem to be lost, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a future.

The prisoners have made bags from discarded billboards, and because they are made out of PVC, they are practical for any type of weather and will last a lifetime. Their longevity is clearly not necessarily a good thing and as with all plastics, polyvinvyl chloride (PVC) should be disposed of in a way that allows it to be recycled. That said, what’s wrong with a nice hemp or paper bag?

They also make organic T-shirts made from cotton in a factory in India that respects the working conditions of their employees.

The T-shirts do have some of the personality of the prisons and their convicts, as the designs are inspired by old-school Russian tattoos. The story of a prisoner can be told from their tattoos, including details like how many times they have been convicted and why they are in jail.

The sustainable clothing line has recently launched in the UK and the T-shirts can be found for £33.27 and the bags cost from £41.70.

Apart from the environmental issue of PVC, we can’t help feel that the ethical stance of this company, helping prisoners rehabilitate and generating money for needy children, is sound.

If you want to know more about ethical consumerism choices, whether it is innovative ideas from prisoners or the latest on fair-trade food then visit our guide to sustainable shopping.

Picture source: Heavy Eco

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