A Melbourne primary school has started its own fashion label to combat textile waste.
- Each year Australians throw away an average of 20kg of textiles each
- Students at a Melbourne primary school have created their own second-hand fashion label to salvage clothing from landfill
- Educator Laura Vissaritis says the program is having positive impacts on students, the local community, and the environment
Students at St Paul the Apostle in the suburb of Doreen have started the “Trash to Fash” label where they repair, repurpose, and donate second-hand clothing to a local op shop.
As well as saving fabric from landfill, the money raised is reinvested in the local community.
Each year Australia throws away 20 kg of textiles and clothes per person.
Educator Laura Vissaritis, better known as Laura V, said before the initiative most students did not realise textile waste was such a big problem.
“They were shocked, and so I said, ‘Well, we need to find out more about this, and what are we going to do about it?’,” Ms Vissaritis told the ABC.
“The more they learnt, the more creativity they had.”
Ms Vissaritis said the program was also changing students’ behaviour at home, with many repairing their own clothing.
“I don’t really buy anything new,” student Georgia said.
“I only really buy if, like, I’m running out of clothes and it’s getting too small.”
Ms Vissaritis said students who had never picked up a needle and thread had learnt to sew by hand and machine.
They have also found creative ways to rescue items that would otherwise have been thrown out, including Aeshan’s invention to enable your clothes to grow as you do.
“I basically made a machine that is supposed to stretch one size into a bigger one,” he said.
Senudi found a way to use donated clothes to make her own dye.
“I put some red fabric in water and then three days later the water was red, so I thought this is like an eco-friendly way to make dye,” she said.
As well as repairs, Ms Vissaritis said students repurposed items that could never have been resold.
“They’ve remodelled them and turned them into things like dog toys, tea towels — a whole range of different things, just so that we don’t send stuff to landfill,” she said.
Helping the environment and community
Everything salvaged by the school has been sent to the local Vinnies Op Shop, which started selling the student’s wares last year.
“There was a lot of pet stuff, dog and cat toys, which were the first things that people gravitated to,” St Vincent de Paul’s Carmel Bono said.
“We actually set up an area for them and we just sold out.”
Ms Bono said all the money raised went towards helping the community.
“Whether it’s a bed for a child or whether it’s to feed a family, that’s what it’s all about,” Ms Bono said.
Ms Vissaritis said she hoped the program would create lasting change for the pupils involved.
“They didn’t realise the truth behind where [clothes] come from, and how they’re made, and how that impacts humans and the environment,” she said.
“Now they’re like, ‘We are part of this problem, but we can also be part of the solution.'”
Watch War On Waste on ABC iview.