High Schoolers Turn Old Into New for a Good Cause
Christina Yasutomi

A reusable shopping bag constructed out of fabric from old clothing was one of the many items created and sold by the Rags to Bags committee. The committee raised $266 and donated their proceeds to Na Kama Kai. Photo by Kisa Tamai

A group of high school students are caring for the environment by repurposing old garments into fashionable accessories. They’re called Rags to Bags, a committee operating under the National Honor Society, which provides opportunities for students to practice service and leadership. For the Rags to Bags committee, their mission is to educate others about the importance of upcycling. 

“Upcycling has been around for a long time but became more popular in recent years,” said Reese Yoshikawa, committee chair and junior at Hawaii Baptist Academy. “I decided to create the Rags to Bags project so we could be more environmentally friendly by upcycling, and we could spread environmentally friendly habits to the HBA community.”

Several months ago, the committee collected fabric donations from their peers through a clothing drive. They then brainstormed and researched products they could create, including bags, pencil cases, scrunchies and more. Over the winter holiday, the students took the fabrics home and hand or machine sewed 92 products. 

“The Rags to Bags committee is very thankful for the families who donated clothing to help support our project. Without those who donated, our project would not have been possible.”
In late April, the committee sold the items to their peers and raised a total of $266. The money will be donated to Na Kama Kai, a local non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth about ocean safety and conservation.