CycleUp, by Roscommon Women’s Network, is a circular economy social enterprise that provides textile upcycling training and creates unique, upcycled items using pre-loved and unwanted textiles. Our main objective is to empower individuals through upcycling education and skills development while addressing the issue of textile waste. Through its work and its community development approach, CycleUp supports the hardest to reach women and families to engage and participate.
The issue of textile waste was initially highlighted by volunteers at the Roscommon Women’s Network (RWN) Charity Shop in 2018. They became concerned about the fate of unsold clothing and took action when they discovered alarming statistics, such as the potential avoidance of over 100,000 tonnes of carbon emissions if only 15% of discarded textiles were diverted from landfills. This motivated them to address this environmental problem and find sustainable solutions. Following a fact-finding visit by the RWN volunteers to the Rediscovery Centre National Centre for the Circular Economy, the RWN Textile Upcycling Pilot Project was rolled out in 2019 which was co-funded by the Local Agenda21 LAPN and Dept. Communications, Climate Action and Environment as well as clothing brand Patagonia with support from Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB), The Roscommon Environmental Network and the Rediscovery Centre.
Following on from the success of the pilot project and evaluation by St. Angela’s College Sligo, RWN secured funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Green Enterprise initiative for the WECAN project for 2021. This funded a project manager for a 12-month period to develop and grow the CycleUp Environmental and Training Social Enterprise, promote and market upcycled products to increase sales, expand the training reach throughout the region and beyond and spread the message of the circular economy through networking and outreach workshops.
To bridge the gap in upcycling skills, we took action by assisting some of CycleUp Team in becoming qualified tutors. In May 2021, 6 participants successfully completed the Training Delivery and Evaluation QQI Level 6 program. These women, who come from diverse backgrounds and include lone parents and caregivers, are now engaged with the project as tutors for Upcycling Textiles Training Courses and Workshops. This initiative not only addresses the skills gap but also provides employment opportunities for these individuals.
Today we employ 3 part time staff and 5 Community Employment workers supported by a team of 14 volunteers and we have supported some of our trainees to progress into self-employment. To date 74 people have completed training and we have reused and upcycled over 8000kg of textiles resulting in a carbon saving of 65 tonnes