Sustainability Superstars and Agents of Change: Beyond Retro and Chipiliro

"Sustainability Superstars and Agents of Change" is Planet Aid's new recurring blog feature that highlights remarkable people and organizations that share our mission of fostering environmental sustainability and/or supporting international development. In this edition, we look at a fashionable way to recycle, and a teacher working against the odds to help his students.

Sustainability Superstar: Beyond Retro

Wearing vintage clothing may be the hippest form of recycling. Not only are retro styles fashion forward, they also aid in protecting the environment. Purchasing once-loved clothes means that fewer new clothes need to be made, which cuts down on water usage, textile-processing pollution, and harmful pesticides. Plus, keeping those old clothes out of the landfill diminishes the amount of greenhouse gases created.

Beyond Retro is a U.K.-based leader in the vintage clothing domain, boasting celebrity customers like Adele, Lana Del Rey, and Kate Moss. The brand initially stocked its stores by handpicking hidden vintage treasures from the donation piles of charitable organizations, but they're now also creating unique pieces from the fabric of donated clothes. The goal is to "recycle used clothing and make it accessible and exciting to everyone through creating an enchanting and unexpected shopping experience."

The process works like this: designers in the UK sketch an article of clothing that can be made from the materials of unwanted garments. For example, a new handbag can be produced from the fabric of an old flannel shirt and an out-of-style leather jacket. Materials are picked out of donated clothing and then sent to the Beyond Retro factory. In this way, all the label's pieces are comprised of 100 percent repurposed and recycled materials (except for the closures).

Check out Beyond Retro's website to browse their styles and learn more about this sustainability-minded company.

Agent of Change: Chipiliro

Before Chipiliro started his teaching at Mathiya Primary School in rural Malawi, the national exam pass rate for eighth grade students was at a lowly 28 percent.

The school was located in a village with no water, no road network, and no cellphone signal. Resources were few.

Undeterred by the challenges that faced him, Chipiliro was able to make a substantial difference in the lives of his students. He launched a school improvement campaign, mobilizing community members to donate lumber to build desks and chairs. He established a youth club in which children helped cultivate a school garden and participated in extra-curricular sporting activities.

And, by organizing remedial school lessons before normal class hours, on holidays, and during the weekend, he was able to get the pass rate up to 51 percent.

Chipiliro completed his teacher training through the Planet Aid-supported DNS program. Find out more about teacher training, and read Chipiliro's full story on the DNS teacher training website.

Past editions of Recycling Superstars and Agents of Change:
40 Bags in 40 Days, Global Citizen, and Cidalia