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Tuesday, December 5, 2023



Volunteers fight fast fashion
In New Zealand, Far North volunteers are breathing new life into donated clothing.

FIXation, based in Russell, Bay of Islands, is a group of up to 20 local volunteers who fix and resell clothes, with all profits going back into the community.

The initiative began shortly after the 2020 lockdown, when the Russell St John’s Opportunity Shop received 125 bin bags of clothes.

“It was chaotic,” volunteer Lynette Cooper said.

Through the work of the volunteers, just three bags went to landfill. The rest were repaired or repurposed, then sold.

“A lot of the items were polyester, but we decided if they’re not made of natural fibres, we should prolong their lives, because that’s the only way to keep them out of landfill,” Lynette said.

The repairs varied from fixing a hem, darning a hole, sewing a button, or simply giving it a wash. Items beyond repair were repurposed into “rag rugs” or turned into yarn.

“It’s the way we used to live,” she said. “In our day, our mothers made dresses with large hems, so that they could hem them up or down before giving to the next child in the family.

“Then fast fashion took a hold on everyone. Now we’re trying to bring [our mothers’ philosophy] back.”

Most of the clothes are sold, but there are also “koha bins” for people to take as needed.

FIXation also contributes to the community with initiatives such as a fashion show with repaired clothing that donated the profits to the local school. The volunteers also help to teach school children to repair their own clothes.

It also sent 30 pillowcases full of clothing to Vanuatu last year.

While the group is mostly older women, there are also teenagers and a person with a disability who volunteer.

Lynette encourages others to get involved in their community.

“It doesn’t have to be sewing, it could be a community garden.

“I live out of town, and I got used to staying at home, but I decided I needed to go out and be involved in the community.

“The great thing about a small town like Russell is there’s a lot of DIY and people offering to help one another, and doing what needs doing.”

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