Inspiring others to seek sustainable options

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Sarah DeFusco ’18 has started a new project, Salvage, that combines art with function and sustainability.

DeFusco and Andrew “Kirby” Casteel ’18 already run a sustainable clothing company, WallaSauce, that has received grant funding and worked with MASS MoCA to present sewing classes focused on upcycled materials. Salvage expands upon this idea with products like cotton coffee filters, dust cloths made from flannel shirts, and an alterations service that refashions and repairs clothing.

Sarah DefuscoDeFusco, who grew up in North Scituate, R.I., lives and maintains a studio space with Casteel in North Adams. She said community members who know the pair’s sewing skills often ask them to mend clothing and other items. “That led me to thinking…what is the point of sustainability? WallaSauce incorporates a lot of sustainable practices, but it’s not a completely sustainable company,” she said. “I wanted to focus more on implementing practices and teaching people skills, giving zero-waste alterations to products, to plant that seed—how can we live our day to day lives a little less impactfully?”

Local tailors are few and far between in the Northern Berkshires, DeFusco said, and many are focusing on more high-end sewing work, like bridal alterations. “I realized I could make this a business venture while also giving the community an affordable option,” she said. “The most sustainable way to have new clothes is to use what you already have.”

To that end, she has resized pants a client found at a secondhand store, replaced a panel in a worn-out denim shirt, and worked on the smaller kinds of alterations—missing buttons, hemming—that people often delay fixing.

SlvgAn English and creative writing major at MCLA, DeFusco said Associate Professor of English and Communications Zack Finch was an “overall creative influence” for her. “He was really inspiring to me in terms of writing and how I approached my creative projects, no matter what they were,” she said. A class with Assistant Professor of Biology Eric Doucette sparked her interest in working on sustainable projects—“he was the first person who really gave me that scientific interest in nature and sustainability,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in my impact and making better choices for the planet’s overall well-being, but his enthusiasm for learning about nature really inspired me to learn more.”

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