Category Archives: reuse

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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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

Handing on skills – Michelle McRae

Michelle McRae from Orange in New South Wales believes handmade skills – such as sewing, knitting/crocheting, gardening, cooking – are important for many reasons. They provide an outlet for creativity and sense of accomplishment. In turn this improves self-worth, independence and resilience. They also provide a connection to others, family and community, as skills can be taught and shared. In addition handmade skills provide for a sustainable community, both financially and emotionally.

With help from mum Michelle, Grace McRae created her own overalls as part of The Slow Clothing Project

With help from mum Michelle, Grace McRae created her own overalls as part of The Slow Clothing Project

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The numbers on textile waste

20161124_sydney_textilerecovery-final-webAt the Circular Textiles Workshop in Sydney, Jane Milburn presented on the waste consequences of fast fashion.

Watching the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh unfolding on television in April 2013 opened my eyes to fast fashion, industrial supply chains and modern-day slavery. I’m a member of Fashion Revolution – a global movement in 80 countries working to increase transparency along the clothing supply chain. And I’ve set up Textile Beat as a vehicle to talk about slow clothing.

Journalist Lucy Siegle says 80 billion new garments are produced globally every year and fashion is the second-most polluting industry after oil. Clothing is so cheap it is almost disposable, discarded after only a few wears.

The United Nations reports at least 1/3 of food produced is never eaten – it is likely a similar amount of clothing is wasted too. There are ethical issues – impacting on people, places and the planet.  Continue reading

Upcycled with love – Deborah Palmer

Deborah Palmer believed the 50th anniversary year of the Battle of Long Tan was an appropriate time to move along the regulation shirt and jacket her father Damien Gainer wore in Vietnam during service to Australia.

Helen Gainer wears the especially meaningful garments upcycled by her daughter Deborah Palmer.

The serviceman’s uniform had been retained unworn through the intervening years and after Mr Gainer passed away two years ago, their only purpose was in holding memories of what had been.

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Making feels good – Julie Livingstone

Although it may not be practical for everybody to go back to making everything for themselves and being completely self-sufficient, Western Australian Julie Livingstone believes it is good for our mental wellbeing to be able to create something.

Julie Livingstone wears a vest she recreated from op-shop-found denim for The Slow Clothing Project.

Julie Livingstone wears a vest she recreated from op-shop-found denim for The Slow Clothing Project.

This is part of what’s described (in Womankind Magazine #9) as ‘living directly’ or facing the world in its raw form, rather than through mediated experiences. Examples of living directly are cooking, sewing, chatting to others in person or patting the cat – whereas mediated living is experiences where someone else (film director, advertising executive or social media tools) is shaping the reality for you.  Continue reading