The term ‘re-loved textiles’ took on a whole new meaning when teen activists and students from Greater Sydney high schools, took on the challenge of creating runway ready garments from packaging and plastic waste for the Waste Not Mash It Up runway competition.

Program Director, Ruth Hessey said teenagers have shown great enthusiasm to participate in the project, which aims to take non-recyclables from landfill and turn them into eco-friendly items of clothing.

“This generation is very eager to express opinions that shake up the mainstream. Australian teenagers have joined the global school climate strikes, and now they’re taking on fast fashion – one of the most wasteful industries on earth,” she said.

“With over 83 billion new garments made each year, a third of which are burned or buried and never worn, it’s well and truly time for an overhaul of the way we use our clothes. The environmental impact is huge,” said Ruth.

This is the second year that Waste Not Mash It Up has run, with last year’s winning garments being displayed at the Hawkesbury Regional Art Gallery earlier this year. But in only its second year, the project has gained the support of the Australian Fashion Council, with an installation of student made fashions from Greater Sydney making its way to Mereceds Benz Fashion Week in May 2020.

The students this year submitted entries for categories including Best Trashion, Most Resourceful and Best Message. The winner of Best Message went to students from Northmead Creative and Performing Arts High School, in a story that sees the Hamburglar end up in a nightmare of sorts with a toxic Unhappy Meal. The Best Trashion Award and Most Resourceful Award went to students from Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School. Winning garments from both the 2018 and 2019 projects will be displayed at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week next year, spreading the message about the impact that fast fashion is having on our planet.

The judges of the competition included Naomi Brennan – the CEO of Reverse Garbage in Marrickville, Bradley Waters from the Australian Fashion Council, Marina De Bris – a trashion artist and activist, Pirra Griffiths from Allerton Swimwear and Jeff Angel – Director of the Total Enviroment Centre.

The fashion – make that trashion – that graced the runway was nothing short of spectacular and each piece held a powerful message from the talented youth of Greater Sydney. This inspiring project is helping our local teens take steps towards creating a waste free future – an initiative that deserves our attention.

To find out more about Waste Not Mash It Up and the winners, head to