Learn how to be more environmentally friendly with lessons from the 1600s

Practical skills from 400-years-ago that could help you become more self-sufficient and eco-friendlier are being taught by Loughborough University academics later this month.

Part of our COP26 campaign to promote research that benefits the environment

As world leaders meet at COP26 to discuss the global climate change policies, Dr Sara Read and Dr Catie Gill are preparing for the Being Human festival to demonstrate smaller changes that could also benefit the environment.

On November 20, the pair will be at the National Civil War Centre, in Newark, to lead the Creativity from Chaos event, which this year is based on the theme of renewal.

Between 10am and 4pm, participants will learn sewing and darning techniques to help repair damaged clothes, how to preserve food and how to make reusable women’s sanitary products.

The techniques date back to the 1600s, but remain relevant today as people look to live more sustainable lives.

Dr Gill said: “Most of the techniques that will be demonstrated have their roots in the 17th century.

“The presenters will talk through the methods used 400 years ago, and the benefits to people today of reusing, repurposing, and preserving what we have.

“In a couple of sessions, the outcomes will be creative, such as writing something imaginative, or learning some decorative sewing techniques.

“However, in other sessions, we will focus on some practical skills that most of us don't have, or don't practice, such as repairing clothes, preserving food, or making women's sanitary products.

“We know that people are very interested in renewal because of the ‘green’ agenda, and because we are trying to find ways out of the passivity induced by the pandemic.”

The food preservation workshop will teach people how to pickle mushrooms, while the sewing session will show participants darning and embroidery techniques.

Dr Read will also give a talk on childbirth in the past and show people how to make a reusable sanitary product using an old jumper.

Other sessions being held on the day include creative writing, an online workshop on gardening tips, and there will be experts on hand for help with repairing household goods and furniture.

There will also be two special talks. Rebecca Rideal will be discussing ‘Restoration and Renewal’, about how science and the arts were revived after the great plague, and Dr Siân Adiseshiah will talk about 20th century responses to the creative political solutions of the civil war era.

This event is part of the Being Human festival, the UK's only national festival of the humanities, taking place 11-20 November 2021.

Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

The festival works in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy to support humanities public engagement across the UK.

Every year the festival helps researchers in the humanities – from literature and history, languages and philosophy, art history and classics, and more – produce enjoyable events for public audiences that emphasise working with local communities to share ideas for mutual benefit.

No bookings are required, and the event is suitable for adults and children aged seven and over.



Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 21/232

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2021 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2022, and 10th in both the Guardian University League Table 2022 and the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.