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Eco fashion equals new life for recycled clothing

A great new look perhaps AND saving mass waste from landfill

Full disclosure: I am a recycled clothing enthusiast, with much of my wardrobe coming from Queanbeyan, Canberra and other locality op shops.

So am most happy to share news about National Op Shop Week at the end of this month and the Salvos’ ‘The lifecycle of a donated product’ and style revival campaign.

I recently visited the Salvos extensive store on Crawford Street Queanbeyan to chat about this campaign, find out who avails themselves of the shopping opportunities and remind us all where the proceeds go.

Area manager Tony O’Connell said people from all walks of life visit the Salvos. He’s seen Mercs and BMW’s parked outside area stores, with lawyers, accountants and varied other professionals sifting through the second-hand bargains along with students, mums and new immigrants who need to watch the budget closely. Students can and do stay for hours and Saturdays can be “ballistic”, he said.

Geography is no problem. People visit the Queanbeyan and ACT Salvos stores from Bungendore or the coast and everywhere in- between. Busloads of senior shoppers come from aged-care residences.

Retro fashion always ‘in’, kids clothing – why wouldn’t you?

Queanbeyan store manager Karin Lee said the retro fashion opportunities are very popular. Fashion is there for every age and style. In our throw-away society, retro can even mean last season’s colours. “People are looking for vintage and value,” she said.

On the young people fashion front, there’s choice for specific and personal tastes in popular styles like the hipster look or just projecting individuality in clothing and accessories. At $2 or $5 an item, why not?

Recycled clothing makes a lot of sense too for fast-growing children and “we sell a lot of kids stuff,” agreed Karin. Looking around the store there is a huge range to choose from. The $2 sale is a permanent fixture for kids clothing, she said.

And for those who need to set up or renew house, there’s good value in everyday and vintage furniture items and homewares —- need some extra forks or a serving platter?  Plus great selections of books or DVDs when in need of a break.

Diverting tons from landfill and millions for those in need

New life for vintage clothing.
New life for vintage clothing.
To make us all feel even better about recycling fashions and household items, here are some statistics both sobering and gratifying about our relationship with clothes and fashion.

Statistics that come with this campaign claim 83% of Australian women have clothes in their wardrobe worn only once or twice, and 62% own clothes that have never been worn or still have tags on. If those clothes are recycled fashions or are then donated, that’s another story. Men’s wasteful ways are not mentioned but men are also a prime target for recycled clothing both donating and buying.

To hit the media big time the Salvos campaign has brought in eco-stylist and TV fashion commentator Faye De Lanty  who says “the lifecycle of a garment in Australia has been reduced almost to a single wear with Australians purchasing over 20kg of new clothing each on average per year”.

In 2016, Salvos Stores diverted 30,000 tonnes of donated items from landfill.  Unsold clothing is shredded for industrial use.  “Over 90% of what the community sends to landfill can be reused and resold, and by saving it from landfill you’re helping others, while getting an eco-chic look for less,” said De Lanty.

The ‘others’ who are being helped are the recipients of aid from the Salvos. Tony O’Connell said in 2016 a whopping $35 million was earned from donations to Salvos Stores nationally and used for the charitable work – with the homeless, those in need of food, youth support, financial-crisis support and disaster relief.

Undoubtedly, Queanbeyan’s other great recycled clothing and household item stores run by Anglicare and St Vinnie’s can tell a similar story.

“When you donate an item to a Salvos Store, it’s just the beginning of its repurposed lifecycle, rather than the end. Your old pair of jeans or lived in leather biker jacket gets a new start rather than being destined for the bin. We restyle them in store, reinvent them with customization and sometimes they’ll end up in a fashion parade or featured on the television,” said De Lanty who is hosting style revival workshops (below).

National Op Shop Week from Sunday 27 August to Saturday 2 September will be celebrated by major sales, prizes and competitions through Salvos Stores.

De Lanty will host a style and clothes revival workshop at the Salvos Phillip ACT store Shop 7 Phillip Market Place on Friday 1 September 2-3 pm. Register at a Salvos store or call 6260 3128

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