From saving 8,000kg of old clothes to inventing a board game, two university graduates in Singapore saw something they could do to help the environment and went ahead and did it.
When fresh graduate Cheow Sue-Jane heard about 8,000kg of clothes that were to be thrown away in Japan, she decided to do something about it.
“It coincidentally happened during a period of time that I was still figuring out what I wanted to do in life,” the 23-year-old told CNA.
This was in 2021 and she had just finished an internship at the end of her third year of university.
“There was nothing really going on in school. So I was like, okay, let’s use this opportunity to start something since it aligned with my passion about sustainability and community work.”
Ms Cheow decided to invest about S$20,000 to buy the 40 bales of old clothing and rent a warehouse for it. Now, she runs The Tryft Shop with her family, alongside her full-time job at a furniture brand.
She and her family started sifting through the 8,000kg of clothes and sold some through their Instagram account and at pop-up stores. They also worked with beneficiaries like homeless shelters to supply clothes for those in need.
For clothes that were not wearable or damaged, Ms Cheow worked with local designers or costume production teams who used the materials to rework them into new clothes.
“In that way, we try to reduce our waste. That’s our operations so far, and the idea that has taken form.”
Her father, who is in the paper and plastics recycling industry and works with recycling suppliers in Japan, had told her about the clothes, knowing that Ms Cheow and her older sister were passionate about clothes and sustainability.
When the clothes arrived, she was shocked at the sheer volume, she told CNA.
“I think I was overly optimistic, because when the shipment came in the container … it was really quite overwhelming.”