Warwick team stitches up idea to reduce waste - St Vincent de Paul Society QLD
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    Warwick team stitches up idea to reduce waste

    Kath Phillips with bags of material at the Warwick Warehouse

    Sick of seeing unusable materials and donations at the Vinnies Warwick warehouse going to waste, manager Kath Phillips decided to do something about it.

    Kath came up with the creative idea to upcycle unusable donated materials, such as pillowcases, tea towels and curtains, to create tote bags, dog beds and even face masks!

    “One of the warehouse volunteers was happy to help but couldn’t stand for long periods of time,” she said.

    “That helped inspire the idea to get a team together and start sewing tote bags out of our donated materials.

    “Most of the team didn’t have previous experience in sewing so the first few bags were pretty rough.

    “But over time we’ve built our skills and have probably made about 20,000 to 30,000 bags in the last five or six years.

    “I’m proud of what our team has been able to achieve.”

    Kath said the initiative wasn’t just environmentally friendly, but it’s been a fun and creative way to upskill many of the volunteers.

    “The volunteers either learn something new or are able to use the sewing skills they already have – quite often you’ll see the Nanas teaching the younger volunteers about how to sew and it really builds some strong friendships.”

    Some of the creative bags made from the Warwick team

    Starting with tote bags (above), the Warwick team started making dog beds out of damaged pillows and blankets and more recently, sewing their own compliant face masks.

    “Everything has a use,” Kath said.

    “I hate seeing things go to waste and I encourage others to start thinking about ways we can reduce waste!”

    The team also sewed together useable face masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.