FICE’s upcycling workshops, transforming used clothing not fit-for-sale into useable products, have been touted as an exemplary and creative solution in helping address the impact of waste in the environment.
According to Heather Willison (she/her), Sustainability Victoria’s Program Lead for the Circular Economy Communities Fund, the project is a stand out “as textiles are a problematic waste stream, and SV wants to see creative solutions for gaps in the current waste management system”.
FICE was awarded $40,200 through the Victorian Government’s Circular Economy Communities Fund for the Upcycling with Cire project, a series of recycling workshops delivered by FICE in 2023. Participants are using clothing that has been donated to FICE but is unfit for resale. Not only are participants helping the environment, they are also gaining new skills which may be transferrable to employment as well as boosting their confidence and connecting with others.
SV is currently visiting most of the 39 projects throughout Victoria that have been funded under Round 2 and checked out the FICE workshops at Yarra Junction Community Hub recently. “Thank you to the team at Cire for including us in their upcycling workshop,” Heather said. “It’s great to be able to visit our projects across Victoria and see their impact firsthand…The Communities Fund supports the transition to a circular economy at a local level and also has strong social impacts – building local skills, encouraging connection, and empowering people to turn their waste into a resource.”
FICE coordinator Renee Cook said the grant had enabled FICE to employ a local workshop facilitator, Antonia, with the hope that a volunteer will continue to run the sessions once the funding has been exhausted.
“The project has connected community members to come together, develop friendships and networks, learn new skills and find some purpose, and it’s allowed us to purchase materials where necessary and equipment so there is no financial outlay by participants.”
One participant described as fantastic both the opportunity and facilitator Antonia. More people need to know about the program and its value at many levels, she said.
Another participant added: “We’ve learned bookbinding, paper making, stamps and stencils. I made beads from paper I painted.”
SV’s Program Capability Lead for Community Solutions, David Leonard, said the project was a great example of circular behaviour change in a local context – it helps retrain the thought process about not simply throwing something away because you do not know what to do with it but to consider other options.
Each term-long block of workshops has a theme, such as soft toys and winter woollies and skills, such as printing onto fabric. The next Upcycling workshop series in August and September will focus on cutting yarn from old t-shirts to make rag rugs and wall tapestries with simple looms.
FICE’s recycling workshops align directly with Cire’s 2023 corporate-wide theme of sustainability.
Another recent Cire initiative is a monthly Repair Café at Chirnside Park Community Hub. This volunteer-led project is dedicated to keeping items out of landfills by repairing and diagnosing problems. Additionally, the Cafe strives to pass on valuable skills and knowledge to the community members who come through its doors. Click here to learn more.
Further, Yarra Junction Community Hub was the venue for a bike maintenance workshop hosted by Zero Waste in June.
To find out more, or to book a place in the next FICE Upcycling Workshops, click here to visit our FICE Events and Workshops page.
PICTURED: FICE’s Renee Cook with Heather Willison and David Leonard from Sustainability Victoria.