Social activist preaching benefits of second-hand clothing at The Sound Temple

Jane Milburn with a selection of her upcycled clothing at The Sound Temple. Photo: David Baylis
Jane Milburn with a selection of her upcycled clothing at The Sound Temple. Photo: David Baylis

SOCIAL activist Jane Milburn would like ‘dedicated followers of fashion’ to break free from their shackles and become leaders of the slow clothing movement.

She said Australians buy an average of 27 kilograms of new textiles each year and discard 23 kilograms into landfill.

About seven years ago, the former agricultural scientist noticed shops overrun with cheap, synthetic clothing and affordable natural fibres in short supply.

“I observed the mountains of excess as clothes became cheaper,” she said.

Jane Milburn (centre) with Home Economics teachers Nikki Singleton (left) and Niari Purdy at the book launch on Sunday at Chisholm Catholic College. Photo: supplied

Several bargains later bought from op shops and fundraisers made her realise she had no need to buy new clothing.

“Two-thirds of new clothing is from manmade fibres such as polyesters derived from petroleum,” she said.

“They shed microplastic particles into the environment each time they’re washed and the synthetic fibres take decades to rot in landfill.

“In a finite world, we can’t keep pretending this doesn’t matter; we are accountable, through the everyday clothing decisions we make.”

The self-taught clothing revivalist is hosting talks and workshops on upcycling clothing at The Sound Temple until May 31, as part of a wider exhibition on creative sustainability and handcrafted wisdoms.

Alternatively, find out more about ethical clothing in her new book, Slow Clothing – Finding Meaning in What We Wear, launched in WA on Sunday. What: Common Threads – Woven through Community

When: May 29-June 5

Where: The Sound Temple, Sawyers Valley

Jane’s Slow Clothing Manifesto:

10 ways to dress smartly in a modern material world

THINK: Make thoughtful, ethical, informed choices

NATURAL: Treasure fibres from nature and limit synthetics

QUALITY: Buy well once, quality remains after price is forgotten

LOCAL: Support local makers, those with good stories and fair trade

CARE: Mend, patch, sort, sponge, wash less, use cold water, line dry

FEW: Live with less, capsule wardrobe, have one best style, unfollow

MAKE: Embrace home sewing as a life skill, value DIY and handmade

ADAPT: Refashion, eco-dye, create new from old to suit yourself

REVIVE: Enjoy vintage, exchange, op-shop and swap

SALVAGE: Donate, pass on, rag weave, recycle or compost

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