Made in the Carolinas: Repurposing fabric for a purpose

Upcycled for Hope
Upcycled for Hope(Fox Carolina)
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 2:03 PM EST
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LYMAN, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - At least 17 million tons of textile waste ends up in the landfill every year.

De Leo Textiles found a stylish way to reduce waste, here in the Carolinas. The company’s non-profit, Upcycled for Hope, is making trash fashionable.

“Textiles are the largest contributing factor to landfills right now,” inventory specialist, Joni Payne said.

“You can have something really nice and luxurious that’s upcycled and helping save the environment,” Payne said.

Upcycled for Hope uses leftover fabric, that would have otherwise gone to the landfill, to make handbags, cosmetic bags, and wristlets.

“We have thousands of bags in the warehouse, but that’s because we’ve had thousands of yards of fabric that would normally just be getting thrown away,” Payne said.

Rolls of fabric are stacked floor to ceiling in the company’s warehouse in Lyman.

“We make upholstery fabric for mainly furniture, pillows, and drapes, which creates a lot of waste fabric, remnant pieces, cut pieces, anything that was never used and ever shipped out to a customer, but we can’t use it anymore,” Payne said.

Payne said they didn’t want to throw the fabric away.

“You’re cutting and sewing and you’re you’re never going to use the whole piece that you buy, which creates a lot of waste on a huge roll of fabric and makes it unsellable,” Payne said, “Where we come in is, we just save it, instead of throwing it away.”

They found a way to repurpose the fabric for a purpose.

“Our designer, Katie, she wanted to do something nice for her nieces who have cystic fibrosis. She thought that we can make bags within the company. We can do it in house with our samples and donate proceeds,” Payne said.

Each bag sold raises money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Epilepsy Foundation.

“Then, we started incorporating the epilepsy cause into it,” Payne said, “Craig De Leo, our CEO, his daughter, Nadia, has epilepsy. We knew that we could take it to another level to where we can really get some donations out of it and we have and it’s been really, really awesome,” Payne said.

Upcycled for Hope is sold online and available at boutiques.