From Floppy Hats to Motorcycle Jackets: Nurses at Greenwich Hospital Upcycle Their Scrubs

From Waste Free Greenwich, Julie DesChamps

A nursing team at Greenwich Hospital has turned in their scrubs for glamorous, green fashion. These talented innovators are upcycling material usually tossed in the garbage into sustainable couture, as well as more practical items for everyday use.

Repurposing non-woven polypropylene textiles used to ship surgical instruments, the nurses design styles from motorcycle jackets and ruffled skirts, to floppy hats and chic purses.

They also produce utilitarian pieces like garment bags, coasters, plant holders, pillows and sleeping bags. The potential for this material is limitless.

The project was initiated during the height of the pandemic when the OR colleagues constructed masks and shoe covers from the wrapping. They couldn’t bear to see the material go to waste and discovered other creative ways to put it to use. “The purpose of the project is to raise the awareness of recycling the hospital’s waste and transform them into practical and useful items,” explained We-ting Reardon, the project’s leader.

Earlier this year, the team hit the runway at a Yale Health System conference to share their message of sustainability and even created a video highlighting their creations.

The nurses note that the operating room is one of the largest generators of medical waste. While many of the disposed items can be recycled, the wrap cannot – though it has many other uses, as the team has demonstrated. This passionate group would like to find other secondary uses for the non-woven polypropylene wrap, as well as toweling and 1-liter bottles – to divert this material from the waste stream. We-ting, along with Maria LoDebole and Traci Valencia, met with Waste Free Greenwich and Greenwich Recycling Advisory Board to brainstorm ideas about its applications in our community. The fabric has many uses for school and home projects and even incontinence padding for beds due to its water resistant properties.  

Do you have ideas about how to reuse this material? Would you like to showcase their work to raise awareness about waste? Does your business have applications for the wrap or toweling?  We’d love to hear from you! Please contact [email protected].