It’s amazing what you can make out of rubbish!

I recently MC’d a fashion show that was all about clothes made from waste materials. It was a fascinating display of what can be done if you are willing to re-use and recycle.

The show was called Wear Not Waste and it was presented by Under Croydon as part of the Croydon Fashion Festival.

Some of the clothes were made from material off-cuts sewn together to make a complete item, others were crafted using plastic bags (the Umpalumpa Bin Dress designed by Lauren Adams and Keyya Attard) or old venetian blinds (the Zebra dress designed by Pamela Nyakato Musana and Raihana Campbell). One was even made from a dozen copies of The Financial Times (designed by Priscilla Enid Agoye).

Other dresses took their inspiration from the rain forests or our obsession with plastic surgery.

The head designer this year was Master Furse whose clever creations can be seen each weekend at Spitalfields market.

Even if you don’t think you have what it takes to create a dress out of plastic bags or venetian blinds, or perhaps even if you could you’re not brave enough to wear it, then take inspiration from some of the designers that updated old items to give them a fresh new fashion look; from gathering up a skirt and ballooning it (by Jessica Rotheram) to adding ribbons and bows (Clara Irving-Mayes) to dying your old faded linen dress and stitching on some sexy lace trim (by Gabriella Lamorella). Anything is possible!

Over a million tonnes of clothes end up in UK dustbins every year – most of these could be re-used by donating them to hostels or charity shops, or they could be revamped as was so beautifully demonstrated at the fashion show in Croydon or they could be recycled and turned into cleaning cloths and other items.

So, before you throw that old jacket out, take a moment to think if the dustbin really is the right place for it. Or better still – before you buy yet another new fashion piece, ask yourself if you might have something even better just waiting, in your wardrobe, for that second chance to shine.

Remember – “new” is just so yesterday – and yesterday with trimmings is just so “right now”.

About the Author: Chantal Cooke is a professional journalist, author and co-founder of PASSION for the PLANET and was appointed a London Leader in Sustainability in 2009.

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