Turning waste into fashion also helps migrants

STITCHING: The Hope 'n' Help volunteers aim to gain experience.
STITCHING: The Hope 'n' Help volunteers aim to gain experience.

A plan to turn waste into fashion is part of an initiative that's also supporting migrants.

Papatoetoe-based charity Hope 'n' Help has received more than $9000 from Auckland Council's Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund to turn unwanted fabric into items such as clothes, bags, cushions, toys and scarves.

The Fashion with Passion project is also helping migrants by offering relevant work experience and teaching valuable skills.

Hope 'n' Help manager Kulwant Kaur says a key concern for migrants is finding employment.

"When they go somewhere for a job they're always asked about New Zealand experience. So we give them experience. That's the major issue for migrants – where do we get the experience?"

The project now has five volunteer staff working on two new sewing machines purchased through the fund.

Volunteer Paramdeep Sarna says she's happy to be involved in the project and put her skills to good use.

She came to New Zealand in 2009 after working as a textile designer in India. Now she's using her experience to help other volunteers.

The environmental aspect of the project is very important,  Sarna says.

"Saying no to plastic bags is our main aim.

"Out of all this waste material we can make our own shopping bags which are reusable. Plastic is just unbearable."

Council solid waste manager Ian Stupple says the fund was set up last year to "seed new ideas for solutions to minimise waste to landfill and help Auckland achieve zero waste by 2040".

Improving waste management is one the council's key concerns, he says.

"All councils in New Zealand are required by law to promote effective and efficient waste management and minimisation,"  Stupple says.

"Based on the last audit in 2010 we are sending over a million tonnes of waste to landfill every year."

Kaur says the Fashion with Passion project is receiving all unwanted fabric by word of mouth – a lot of the material the volunteers receive comes from clothing that has hardly been worn.

The project hopes to find a suitable venue, and plans to offer free sewing workshops in the future.

Call Kaur on 250 4844 for more information.

Fairfax Media