Helping divert textiles from landfill

Textiles are the biggest product segment at Reverse Garbage Queensland, prompting the launch of Worn OUT as an exhibition to celebrate refashion and creative upcycling.

To be held at the RGQ warehouse in Woolloongabba on October 28, Worn OUT will showcase more than 50 refashioned garments made by a dozen creatives from around Australia.

Coordinator Bill Ennals said textiles had easily become RGQ’s fastest-growing segment in the past few years with local businesses diverting excess stock to the warehouse for resale rather than sending it to landfill.

Elizabeth Kingston and Jane Milburn“Textiles have become our biggest selling item and our clientele are really engaging around creative ways to reuse fibres and fabrics – more so than other segments we stock which include timber, metal, plastic, glass, containers, ceramics, paper and card,” Bill said.

Worn OUT is co-curated by Australian refashion pioneer and sustainability consultant Jane Milburn of Textile Beat (above right) who for the past five years has been raising awareness of creative ways to reuse clothing and textiles to keep them out of landfill.

“This is an exciting opportunity to nurture an upcycling culture that enables makers to explore their creativity in unique, empowering, and affordable ways – there are no rules or limits with refashion and the big bonus is that reusing textiles is sustainable and ethical too,” Jane said.

“Refashion is playful yet disruptive storytelling using pre-loved and salvaged materials. It carries an environmental message about the finite nature of Earth’s precious resources and demonstrates how individuals can make a difference through what we wear.

Worn Out poster

“Australians are the second-largest consumers of new textiles in the world and absorbed 27 kilograms each in 2015. We are also throwing a lot away, with the ABC’s War on Waste team estimating 6000 kg of clothing and textiles are being sent to landfill every 10 minutes.”

Co-curator Elizabeth Kingston (above left) brings a wealth of design and styling experience to Worn OUT with her textile and teaching background, and former fashion design label, now being applied and shared through the Instagram platform as @timeless_styling.

“Every day is a new opportunity to create when we bring together textures, colours and shapes in creative ways and reinvent them as refashion,” Elizabeth said.

In addition to refashion, Worn OUT includes a Cosplay showcase, curated by Jillian Rose. All garments, costumes and accessories featured in the exhibition will use a minimum 75 per cent ‘non-new’ materials.

The exhibition will be launched with a free opening event Saturday 28 October featuring various runway shows from 7-9.30pm at RGQ’s Woolloongabba warehouse, where food and beverages will be available for purchase. A static display of selected Refashion garments, Cosplay outfits and accessories will continue the following week in RGQ’s upcycled gift shop, Reverse Emporium.

Contact exhibition co-ordinator Bill Ennals wornout@reversegarbageqld.com.au  07 3891 9744 or 0402 499 225, or co-curator Jane Milburn on 0408 787 964

Revive style for planetary health

Brisbane is the first city in the world to host a pop-up secondhand fashion festival as a waste minimization strategy, to the best of my knowledge. I (Jane Milburn) checked with New York refashion academic Sass Brown and Sass knows of no other.  Do tell if you know of another.

Stiltwalkers showcase refashion at the 2016 Revive event in the heart of Brisbane. Photo by Brisbane City Council

Stiltwalkers showcase refashion at the 2016 Revive event in the heart of Brisbane. Photo by Brisbane City Council

Revive is in its second year and pops up again on 18 August 2017 at South Bank Forecourt from noon to 9pm. Hats off to Brisbane City Council, Cr Peter Matic and Cr David McLachlan for leadership. With textiles being one of the fastest growing domestic waste streams, fuelled by fast-fashion turnover, I am proud to have been in the room at its conception. Thank you to Cr Matic for acknowledging my contribution.

The advent of Revive followed a 2015 opportunity I had to address a council meeting on a matter of public importance.  Here’s the link to my 2015 address (including Hansard pdf) when I spoke of the need to develop a more sustainable clothing culture. Revive is a huge step in this direction.  Continue reading

Eco fashion rising in Australia

You know the eco tagline is truly authentic when upcycled garments are included on the runway, as they will be at Eco Fashion Week Australia on November 23-27.

Sceptics might think eco fashion is a branding exercise, another way to sell you things you don’t really need, because fashion is by definition the latest fad or trend – ever-changing and therefore by implication unsustainable.

Eco is short for ecology, ecosystem or environment – so upcycling garments that already exist (another 100 billion* new garments are added to the supply chain each year) lends credibility to this inaugural eco fashion event in Fremantle.

ecofashion photos

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Clothing changes faster than weather

By Ari Balle-Bowness

ariClothing of today changes faster than the weather. Buying clothes, wearing them once and leaving them in the cupboard is commonplace. This is not an assumption, it is a regular observation.

I am a 19-year-old journalism student at Griffith University sharing a male perspective on contemporary clothing culture and how to combat the fashion monster that has come to dominate our thinking.

My clothing choices are independent as I try to stay away from the fast-fashion options and prefer to develop my own style. My solution is op-shopping and second-hand stores which are increasingly popular among younger generations. For many my age, the vintage revival is booming and op shops are becoming trendy places which also happen to provide a more sustainable way to dress.  Continue reading

Rethinking clothing culture and waste

By Jane Milburn Textile Beat founder and sustainability consultant

Textile Beat founder Jane Milburn clothed in wool garments given a second life using eco-dye. Photo by Ele Cook

Textile Beat founder Jane Milburn clothed in wool garments given a second life using eco-dye. Photo by Ele Cook

My campaign on clothing waste has been a lifetime in the making. It began as a child learning hand-making skills and continued as a student upcycling big old dresses and thrifted finds.

I made many of my clothes for decades then rediscovered op shops in 2011 after a Fashion for Flood fundraiser. I began visiting op shops and particularly seeking out natural-fibre garments – wool jumpers with a hole, linen shirts with a missing button. The waste of resources troubled me because I grew up on a farm and have an agricultural science degree. What was happening to our clothing culture I wondered?

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Mendful, mindful, meaning in stitches

Mended garments carry a story of care. They reflect the triumph of imperfection over pretension while the act of mending itself brings transformation in both mender and mended.

By embracing repair as a valid and useful act we, the menders, are stitching new life-energy into something others step over in the scrabble onwards and upwards. To pause, apply creative problem-solving and add a mark of care to our clothes, we extend their life and bring meaning to our own.

The clothes we wear are a statement of values. We may go through stages of searching for newer, sharper images and think clothes, like makeup and leopard spots, can camouflage and attract the right sort of attention. Alas, the pipe dream.  Continue reading

Slow food and slow clothing TEDxQUT

TEDxQUT talkBelow is original script from Jane Milburn’s TEDxQUT talk on April 8, 2017.

This suitcase weighs 23kgs – it’s overweight if you’re flying. And it represents the amount of leather and textiles that each Australian sends to landfill every year.

Every one of us … every year.

We know about food waste and that a third of food is never eaten – clothing waste runs parallel to that.

Every day we eat and dress to survive and thrive.

Our clothes do for us on the outside what food does inside. They warm and protect our body – and influence the way we feel.  Continue reading

Textile Beat leads change

Few people sew their own clothes these days because factory-made options are cheap and plentiful, yet this trend creates a clothing surplus that requires creative solutions to keep it out of landfill.

Textile Beat is celebrating four years of upcycling and helping influence a more sustainable clothing culture based on using natural fibres and applying traditional skills in innovative ways.

Jane Milburn of Textile Beat

Sustainability consultant Jane Milburn of Textile Beat

Textile Beat founder Jane Milburn said the Slow Clothing Manifesto identifies 10 actions we can take to thrive in a material world: think, natural, quality, local, care, few, make, adapt, revive and salvage.

“Clothes do for us on the outside what food does inside – nourish and warm our body and soul. Fast and processed industrial food has had a dramatic impact on health in recent years and similarly the shift to industrial clothing has social and environmental impacts we are only now learning,” Jane said.

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Slow clothing philosophy

Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. Using observation and instinct, Jane Milburn and Textile Beat join the dots and explore a science-based narrative about clothing.

Clothes do for us on the outside what food does on the inside – they nourish and warm our body and soul. In the same way that conscious eaters are sourcing fresh whole food and returning to the kitchen, conscious dressers are seeking to know more about the provenance and ethics of clothing and curious about how it is made. Every day we eat and we dress to survive and thrive, and it is not just the style that matters, substance does too.

War on Waste interview with Craig Reucassel web

War on Waste with Craig Reucassel, coming to ABC TV in 2017

Fast and processed industrial food has had a dramatic impact on our health in recent years and similarly there has been transformational shift to industrial factory-made clothing, the social and environmental impacts of which we are only now coming to understand.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation reports that at least one-third of food produced is never eaten and creative solutions are emerging to divert and reduce that waste. In the same way, there is growing evidence a third of clothing is wasted, with much potential to upcycle and redeploy it. My purposeful work is bringing awareness to these and other material issues.

More than 90 percent of garments sold in Australia are now made overseas, mostly in Asian factories. Most people buy off-the-rack or online, with very few making anything for themselves to wear. As a natural-fibre champion, I am troubled that synthetic fibres made from petroleum now dominate the clothing market at a time when research shows these plastic clothes are shedding millions of microplastic particles into the ecosystem with every wash.

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Engage in slow clothing

There is a huge excess of clothing in society due to the transformational shift in the way we buy, use and dispose of our garments these days, which is leaving us less engaged and wasteful.

We are buying up to four times more clothes than we did two decades ago, exploiting people and resources as well as creating environmental problems because of the trend towards synthetic clothes derived from petroleum.

We need to think more about whether we need new clothing, then choose to buy quality, natural, local and just a few.

Alternatively, we can get creative and learn to care, repair, adapt and revive existing clothing.

The Slow Clothing Manifesto is a summary of ways to thrive in a material world. Be more conscious about our clothing, in the same way we have become conscious of our food.

Slow clothing manifesto