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How Weather Inspired My Creative Intervention for a Johannesburg Bus Stop

How one artist tried to create the visual effect of a ‘wet bus stop’ in Johannesburg by hanging straight stripes of white and blue barrier tape.

I was born in South Africa and I lived in the U.K. for several years, and in both places I couldn’t escape noticing the weather and its impact on my daily life. Since I returned home earlier this year, I’ve been amazed by how powerful a much-missed blue sky can be.

As an artist, I play with my immediate environment and question familiar things we often take for granted. Recently for a project, I had an idea: I wanted to create the visual effect of a "wet bus stop" in sunny Johannesburg by hanging straight stripes of white and blue barrier tape on the inside of a bus stop. To me, the tape looked like rain drops. So when installed, the bus stop—supposed to protect us from the elements—would look like it was raining from the inside.

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Here's How Your Old T-Shirts Can Create Jobs

When you are done with college you get a degree, lifelong friends, time management skills and a whole lot of t-shirts.

When you're done with college you get a degree, lifelong friends, time management skills, and a whole lot of t-shirts. A t-shirt for the basketball game, for your student club, for a party, or for community service events. They become your scrapbook—representing your highs, lows, mistakes, and triumphs.

This is why it made sense for us last summer to go to a school like Harvard, and propose that we turn all those Harvard branded t-shirts into upcycled tote bags that can be given out to alumni. Not only are the bags not adding more waste to the textile stream, but they're also creating fair wage work in the USA.

Our pitch fell on deaf ears, just like it did at many other schools. They were used to a price that could only be offered in the far east, where the cost of labor is 90 percent lower than U.S. wages. We learned that universities want to be green, but are addicted to fast fashion prices. Instead, at Harvard reunions they passed out a hat, with a big “Made in China” tag on it.

While America’s t-shirt production has almost entirely gone overseas, we at Project Repat saw an opportunity to create fair wage jobs out of people’s sentimentality around their shirts.

There is a lot of talk now about re-shoring, and bringing jobs back to the U.S., but it’s hard to translate broad sweeping policy talk with tangible ways for all of us to help. A lot of times in the very undefined "social enterprise" sector, something that seems like a good idea, isn't something people will actually buy. While it was difficult for us to get universities to pay for U.S. labor, we felt the American consumer would appreciate knowing that their clothes were made responsibly.

We also heard from customers that they wanted something made from their t-shirts. We liked the tote bags option, but it wasn’t something consumers were really looking for. The terms "t-shirt quilts" and "t-shirt blankets’’, however, get more than 70,000 monthly searches. With these items, we found a way to simplify our production process to make them more affordable to the customer.

And apparently there was a lot of demand for a t-shirt blanket—surprising news to two boys in their late 20s. In the past year, we have sold over $750,000 worth of custom t-shirt blankets.

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GOOD Maker Challenge: Create Something Original From Your Old PC

What can you make out of an old PC? Show us what upcycling tech with DIY flair means to you to win VIZIO products and a subscription to GOOD Magazine.

This content is brought to you by VIZIO

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