Millie Hocking is taking on textile waste stitch by stitch with her innovative take on 'upcycling'.
The 22-year-old graphic design graduate runs textile workshops in Wagga, teaching the environmentally-minded how to extend their items of clothing far beyond a few wears.
The Wagga-based artist was inspired to start reinventing, rather than retiring, old clothes after watching the War on Waste and realising the drastic impact fast fashion is having on the environment.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that on average, an individual Australian will send 23kg of textiles to landfill each year. Two-third of those are synthetics that break down slowly.
"That fast fashion, it was so upsetting," Millie said. "I wanted to do something so I started delving into sustainability."
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These days, rather than throw an old jacket into a plastic bag for the op-shop, she 'upcycles', using screen printing or embroidery to change the design.
"For me, upcycling is making clothing your own by changing it in some small way, some people cut up things and remake it, I screen print and embroider and that's my version," she said.
She said the majority of her wardrobe is now entirely recycled, consisting of long-held items and op-shop purchases that have been given a personal flair via her needle or prints.
At her workshops, held through the Wagga Art Gallery, attendees bring along an old item of clothing and learn to reinvent it using their own design, or they can add one of Millie's own stencils.
The workshops have so far attracted an older crowd, but Millie is urging people her age and younger to get involved and learn how to give their clothing a longer life.
"There are a lot of resources out there, and it doesn't have to be too complicated," she said. "That's what my workshops are about, bringing beginners in and showing them the basics with no pressure."
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