Upcycling remodels wardrobe waste

Americans each throw away 30kg of textiles a year, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong about 13kg per person according to their environmental protection agencies – and Australian charities process about 5kg of donated clothing per person each year.

An Upcycling exhibition to help us get a handle on how fast-fashion consumes resources and creates waste is coming to Coolah this week with agricultural scientist and communications consultant Jane Milburn.

Jane is one-third through the 365-day Sew it Again project to inspire creative upcycling of existing clothing, demonstrate slow fashion and revive home-sewing as a life skill akin to home-cooking.

“I’m demonstrating refashioning on sewitagain.com, empowering others with upcycling skills and ideas through workshops, and shifting society’s thinking about ecological impacts of clothing choices,” Jane says. 

FAO figures indicate that apparel fibre consumption is increasing at a rate three times faster than the global population, with 2010 per capita consumption fibre being 11kg compared with 7kg per person in 1992.

“In other words, our consumption of clothing has increased by 80 percent in less than two decades – and during that time the global population increased by 25 percent. A lot of clothing doesn’t get a chance to wear out these days – it is tossed out to make way for trendier purchases.”

Jane is part of the fashion revolution which is following in the footsteps of the food revolution, because people want to know more about what they are consuming and where it comes from.

“In the same way that there is rising interest in home cooking and food growing for health and wellbeing, there is a pressing need to rethink our approach to textiles and fashion. Fast food and fast fashion are convenient – but not necessarily sustainable or good for us and our planet,” Jane says.

“My model for social and environmental change includes empowering individuals to reimagine and recreate their own wardrobe collection by resewing at home.

Pandora Gallery at Coolah in southern New South Wales is the first to host Upcycling, an interactive garment story exhibition to inspire change in our approach to fashion and textiles. It will run from May 4-16, with Jane upcycling in the gallery every day.

“Country people are resourceful and understand upcycling. I’m excited that Coolah is the first to host the Upcycling exhibition – and pleased to be invited to host workshops in regional Queensland at Biloela and Warwick in coming months to demonstrate simple upcycling techniques.”

Upcycled exhibition Coolah May 2014

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