Sustainable Tote Bags

In 2015, with the help of a grant from the sustainability council, Textile/Surface Design professor Susanne Goetz began a pilot project upcycling used screen print drop cloth into tote bags.

The screen print room has five long print tables covered with cotton cloth. The cloths protect the tables from ink spills and accidental overprints and are replaced every 12-18 months. In the past the cloths have been discarded, but the tote bag project gives them a second life.

The bags are cut and sewn by Pratt Institute | Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator, a hub and resource center for ethical fashion and design. Labels are screen printed on fabric cutoffs with leftover ink and the bags are numbered and signed, which creates awareness of the different steps and people involved in the process. The bags are on sale at the FIT Style Shop, operated by the student Merchandising Society. Profits from sales will fund the next round of production.


  • repurposing waste into a profitable and interesting consumer product
  • incorporating sustainability concepts into the educational experience allows students to gain a greater understanding of how recycling can offer environmental, creative and economic benefits, and offers an opportunity to learn about sourcing and production
  • motivating other departments at FIT to re-consider the idea of "waste" and serve as inspiration for other institutions
  • promote FIT as a sustainable, ethically minded, and socially aware institution
  • promote FIT's creative and innovative community