Reversing the waste trend
Local creatives to present upcycling as textile waste alternative on October 28
Have you ever browsed the racks at any of the fast fashion global behemoths and wondered how they can make such fashionable clothes so cheaply?
We've seen these retailers enter the local market aggressively in the last five years. What was once an industry term, fast fashion has become so ubiquitous globally that the term is now a part of the consumer lexicon. With that pervasiveness comes knowledge of the waste this industry, and others who use textiles, create. Although as consumers we are more switched on than ever, we haven't yet voted with our wallets and continue to choose to frivol away natural resources for fleeting fashion.
According to True Cost (truecostmovie.com) globally, we now consume about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year and in Australia we send 85% of the textiles we buy to landfill every year (textilebeat.com) making us the second-largest consuming nation of new textiles, per capita, after the US.
But a growing fashion movement is emerging in upcycling, an ethos which aims to interrupt the great textile march to the tip and instead keep these high quality resources in the cycle - giving new life to what was formerly considered waste.
With a tagline of "waste is something we do, not something that is" Reverse Garbage Queensland (RGQ) is part of this movement. With a showroom at Woolloongabba, RGQ is a not-for-profit worker-run cooperative that promotes environmental sustainability and resource reuse. They collect high quality industrial discards in an effort to divert them from landfill and sell them at a low cost to the general public.
Textiles make up a large part of floor stock at Reverse Garbage, garnering great interest from creative all over the country and inspiring the launch of Worn OUT, an upcoming exhibition celebrating 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.
“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,” he said.
Worn OUT is co-curated by Australian refashion pioneer and sustainability consultant Jane Milburn of Textile Beat 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."
“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.”
Elizabeth Kingston, as Co-curator, brings a wealth of design and styling experience to Worn OUT with a textile and teaching background. The former fashion label maven now curates and presents Brisbane’s most colourful and patternate slow fashion as the popular @timeless_styling on Instagram.
“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 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 7.00-9.30pm at RGQ’s Woolloongabba warehouse found at 20 Burke Street, Woolloongabba. On the night, food and beverages will be available for purchase. A static display of selected refashioned garments, cosplay outfits and accessories will be displayed following week in RGQ’s upcycled gift shop, Reverse Emporium at the same address.
For more information visit www.reversegarbageqld.com.au or find them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
To find out how ethically and sustainably your favourite fashion brand is manufactured via the Ethical Fashion Report online: www.baptistworldaid.org.au/resources/2017-ethical-fashion-guide/
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