National Recycling Week

Recycling for our fashionable future.

Each year Planet Ark work for an entire week to educate us Australians on the positive environmental outcomes of recycling by increasing community awareness, increasing collection rates and reducing contamination. Local councils, businesses and community groups are encouraged to join in throughout the week.  Established in November 1996, Planet Ark founded National Recycling Week to bring a national focus to the environmental benefits of recycling. Now in its 21st year, this established and highly regarded annual campaign continues to educate and stimulate behaviour change, by:

  • Promoting kerbside, industrial and community recycling initiatives
  • Giving people the tools to minimise waste and manage material resources responsibly at home, work and school.

Recycling for Fashionistas.

Because I am very passionate about the fun that can be had when recycling fashion items I love to spend recycling week discussing the benefits of recycling in a stylish way. Over the next week I’ve prepped some posts that should help you think about the ins-and-outs of recycling your clothing and what it means to be an up-cycled or recycled fashionista. Today’s post will provide you with a little bit of food-for-thought when it comes to recycling and the fashion industry. I’ve popped some videos in (the top is Australia focused and the bottom is UK based) because sometimes that’s WAY more fun than reading from a blinking computer or device screen.

ivano_vitali

A little bit more visual inspiration.

Because we all like to look at pretty things! The pic above is just one of many amazing garments made by Italian artist, ecologist and sculptor Ivano Vitali. Vitali is a man of my own heart and is passionate about recycling, a passion that has progressed over many years into the creation of  unique garments and artworks made from recycled newspapers. The process is quite labour intensive as the artist collects paper, tearing it into strips while sorting into colours. He does this so he doesn’t have to dye the paper to create his desired hue. The paper is twisted into balls and then knitted (sometimes on a GIANT scale) into wearable garments and works of art.

Happy recycling week! I look forward to talking all things recycling with you. How do you recycle? Start the conversation here.

Author: Katie

Katie Roberts is a self confessed 'write-a-holic' Environmental Scientist with a passion for Sustainable Fashion.

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2 Comments

  1. How do you personally feel about the recycling process – or sell-on process that happens today when we donate clothes?

    Post a Reply
    • Hey Beautiful!

      Thanks for the question. I personally love recycling but there are so many different ways of approaching it in the fashion industry. In an ideal world we would work in a C2C process where designers of (anything not just clothes) are responsible for reclaiming the used product at end of life and making it into new product (either the same or selling on to someone else for other end use).

      The shitty bit about textile recycling is that the process is really really hard due to all the blends of fibre types companies use and the fact (most places) don’t have textile recycling streams. Also all the buttons, studs, beading and accessories add a whole other level of complexity to the recycling process most of which has to be sorted by hand which opens up the issue of ethical recycling (there is a short video about the ethics of recycling in a post this week). If costs aren’t kept down (and wages can be expensive) then it prices recycled fabric out of the market.The other issue is that in many cases the process of recycling textiles results in ‘down cycling’ where items are transformed into inferior product and often involves some kind of wastage.

      So the global secondhand clothing market (excluding the on-sell for rags/recycling/downcycling) is a good way to keep textiles in the system for longer than one wear. Ultimately all it does is prevent them from going straight to landfill by circulating them through different local economies until they are worn out and end up in the bin elsewhere. The benefits of the system is that in many countries the supply of ‘junks’ for market can be a really legit way to start your own business, feed your family and keep yourself looking sharp (I loved this series). But there are loads of papers on how this influx of western fashion can change economies, artisan culture, and westernise dress. The same issues apply for the one-for-one strategies where a pair of shoes or glasses is gifted to developing nations when you buy an item for yourself. It’s a beautiful thought but it limits the capacity for places to have their own shoe or glasses economy. So in a way there is some benefit in empowering people to start their own small business with secondhand clothing rather than giving them a pair of shoes and sending them on their way (the old ‘give a man a fish or teach a man to fish’ idea).

      It’s all very complex but I would say I’m all for recycling in any form I just wish that companies would be smart enough to establish C2C design processes and either make items that are biodegradable at end of life or can be sent back for reuse and recycling by the people who know the product best. I also think that it’s super important to buy new from labels that are encouraging the long term preservation of artisan knowledge because as long as we are demanding this product the knowledge is alive and industry continues.

      Thanks for the fab question. There is actually a chapter in the up-coming book that looks at these issues briefly.

      xx

      Katie

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