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Green Fair 2019 in Sunny Albany

Green Skills was pleased to support the City of Albany to run another successful Green Fair in November 2019. With a jam-packed schedule of demonstrations, speakers, workshops, displays, music and market stalls, there were plenty of sustainable skills to look at. The weather was looking stormy in the week prior but Saturday brought welcome sunshine. This year the event was spread over both sides of the library (and upstairs in the meeting rooms) due to the construction site next to the Albany Town Hall.

Adrian Price travelled from Boyup Brook to talk about upcycling ewaste, how to safely dismantle items for parts and the potential for selling components.

Sustainable Schools had several displays inside the library area. Several local schools also had their own stalls outside, and it was great to see the recycling and sustainability initiatives that are popping up.

Green Skills held a stall and answered questions about our Terracycle programs, bushland regeneration and other projects.

There were lots of volunteers and community groups on the day sharing their skills and knowledge. What did you learn?

Food is Free Project

The Albany office has been running a ‘Food is Free’ cart since 2017 at 38 Graham Street, inspired by the Food is Free laneway in Ballarat, VIC. Over the last two years, hundreds of kilograms of fruit and vegetables have been given away from this humble little upcycled cart. The Food is Free concept started in Austin, Texas and has now spread around the world with over 350 cities participating. It’s a great way to build community and connect excess food to people who can use it.

The Green Skills Albany office has several raised garden beds and grows seasonal vegetables when volunteer labour & staff energy allows. We currently have one volunteer working in our garden and have planted summer seedlings such as zucchini and tomatoes. Upcycled wicking beds in the front yard are a great way of keeping the vegies going through summer holidays with gaps in garden watering. The garden produce on the Food is Free cart mostly comes from the office gardens and staff home vegetable gardens.

You can participate by dropping off your own homegrown produce or taking whatever you find on the cart. Please don’t leave items that can blow away, such as egg cartons, as this location is windy. The cart has been on the verge in the past but it now lives under the veranda where it is shadier.

The Green Skills Food is Free cart is available to the community whenever the gates are open, which is roughly 9-3pm weekdays (may be earlier or later depending on staffing). Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for current offerings. While you’re there, you may want to bring your coffee pods, toothbrushes or old pens for recycling in the TerraCycle program.

You might even like to set up a Food is Free space or edible verge garden at your place. Find out how here.

Slow Fashion Festival 2019

Green Skills held a Slow Fashion Festival in June 2019 at Fossicker’s Tip Shed in Albany to showcase sustainable fashion around the Great Southern region.

What is Slow Fashion? Slow fashion, as opposed to fast fashion, is fashion that causes less harm to people and the environment. It could be expensive, handstitched, bespoke, organic garments; or a bargain unique op shop find. Our festival included market stalls from local businesses who are upcycling coffee pods to make jewellery, plaiting rag rugs, upcycling fabric into new garments, creating jewellery from wooden offcuts, reselling secondhand clothes, hand-felted hats, vintage wear, and information about our recently launched Repair Cafe Albany.

The global fashion industry has an impact on the environment through raw materials (cotton cultivation is one of the most pesticide and water intensive industries in the world), fibre processing chemicals and dyes polluting soil & water, landfill (the average Aussie throws out 23kg of textiles to landfill every year) and microfibres (most WA beaches are polluted with microscopic synthetic fibres). There is also a humanitarian impact as many clothing factories employ child or female workers in unsafe conditions for minimal pay in order to produce our cheap chainstore garments. You just can’t produce a new t-shirt for $3 (grow the fibres, process them into material, transport it, create the garment, and ship it around the world) without someone else paying the cost behind the scenes. Look for the hashtag #whomademyclothes to find out more.

What can you do about it? Jane Milburn, author of Slow Clothing, says ‘buy once, buy well’. Listen to her podcast here. If you can’t afford to buy ethical clothing, look for secondhand gear in op shops or online swap groups. Don’t buy new synthetic items. Keep the synthetic textiles you already have in circulation, but wash them as little as possible and consider buying a filter bag for your washing machine to decrease the microfibre shedding into the waste water (this usually ends up in oceans, hence microfibres washing up on our beaches).

You can also host a clothes swap to stop your unwanted clothes from going to landfill and get something new to you at the same time. Find out how here. Green Skills hosted a clothes swap as part of the Slow Fashion Festival and many garments exchanged hands. We did have a system with tokens, to try to make sure we didn’t end up with extra clothes at the end of the event, but there were a pile of left-overs. These will be used for future workshops.


Two workshops ran at the event; darning knitted jumpers and socks, and easy hand-dying garments with natural materials. Check out the Permadoll or Green Skills Facebook pages for more workshops.

Albany folk might be surprised to see the volume of clothing rescued from our local op shops. This work is done by a local couple, Max and Marianne Chester, who attended our event in time to see some of the discarded clothing being worn on the catwalk. They have been collecting quality clothing and textiles that was on the op shop floor, but needed to be moved on in order to fit new stock. This doesn’t even include clothing that is too torn or dirty to offer for sale in the first place. The clothing is packed into wool bale bags and transported to Perth, where it is sent around Australia or the world to places of need. Max currently collects fifty wool bales worth of textiles per week, just from Albany. This was previously going into our landfill.

The most lively part of this event was the fashion parade. Catherine Kinsella from Style Genie coordinated our lovely volunteer models, and stallholders generously provided some garments, as well as discarded clothing pulled out of the wool bales (AKA ‘The Wool Bale Range’). The fashion parade ran twice during the event, and Bob Symons and the team from ACE Camera Club captured the moments for us. Thanks to our models and all the other event volunteers who made this day wonderful.

Next step: if you are want to learn more, check out these free online courses: Fashion & Sustainability with the London College of Fashion, Fashion’s Future with Fashion Revolution or Who Made My Clothes by the University of Exeter.

Green Skills Denmark has also run several projects keeping textiles out of landfill, including the recent Sew Cool! Making a Difference: Workshops and Markets.

The Slow Fashion Festival 2019 was supported by the Waste Authority of WA and the City of Albany.

2019 Sustainable Communities Festival Committee is ready !!

The 2019 Green Skills Sustainable Communities Festival Committee is all geared up for Saturday 23rd March in the Albany Town Square. We have 50 plus stalls showcasing great multicultural food, upcycled items for home and garden, waste tips and tricks, Pop-up gardens, kids activities, well being products, making repairs, energy efficiency, water efficiency, music, plants, art, books, cakes and much more.

It’s the second last day of harmony week and our partners, the Rainbow Coast Neighbourhood Centre, have a great range of entertainment lined up. This includes belly dancing, the Karen Choir, the Perth International Dance Troop, the Irish Limerick Singers, a Karen weaving display and a Hazarra Martial Arts display. Students from the Albany Senior High School have produced a signed a 4m banner as tribute to the tragic events in New Zealand this week which we will be displaying. And don’t forget the School Cook-Off in the morning.

We have 3 workshops in the afternoon showing you how to make your own products and take them away (small charges apply to cover materials shown in brackets)  These are:

  • Beauty products for teenagers ($5)
  • Washing powder ($10) and
  • Dishwasher tablets workshop ($10)

Contact the Albany office on 9842 1334 or email [email protected] to book your spot in a workshop.

Ride your bike to the event and get a free voucher for coffee, hot chocolate, tea or Chai latte.

Come have fun and take a selfie #sustainablecommunities

A Journey from Zero Waste to Glut and the Return: Sustainable Commuity Festival


Ashley Whiting, is the owner and operator of Ashley Whiting Creative, wife and mum of one, to her daughter Lilly.
I have always been a saver and a recycler. Having been born and bred in Zimbabwe, Africa, where often things like fabrics, ribbons or even glass jars were expensive or hard to get or didn’t exist, being thrifty and reusing things just became a way of life for all who lived there. We then moved to Australia in 2001 to a life of commercial abundance and this was just exciting for us, but also overwhelming. I also couldn’t get past the amount of things that get wasted from clothing toys and even furniture that is just thrown out, the roadside collections is where we procured our first BBQ when we first lived in Perth. Nothing that a good scrub can’t fix! My way of trying to reduce stuff was always to find a home for something rather than throw it away.

So going from lack to abundance was eye opening and something that I felt was an extraordinary waste. Nothing ever gets wasted in Africa down to what Australia calls “single use” plastic shopping bags which were always saved and used over and over. and milk bottles where people would use them for water and petrol or kerosene.

My journey with waste has been about making sure our spot on the planet is about recycling as best as we can, from food waste which goes to compost, to cardboard that gets drawn on and painted on and then composted, and children toys which get passed onto a new kiddie to enjoy etc. Most of my mum friends know I am always giving away clothes or toys to the next little one who can have use out of it.
Some of this recycling has even found its way into my creative pursuits. Being a costume tech for theatre, I have come across many creative ways we can utilise a lot of our waste to make creative stuff. I have made a garment utilising left over shade cloth for entry into the WA Fashion Awards. I made a head piece using a left over coffee bean sack. I find working with all these materials interesting and not allowing them to go to waste, but giving them another lease of life in a different way.

Being more conscious of buying what I need as opposed to what I want. I am a big op shop buyer and have changed up numerous outfits to be something that can be made into an every day garment. It is all about recycling and using what we can.

My hubby had to think outside the box too for his recycling efforts when it came to his diesel fitting job. But he can tell you about that. It took a bit of time to get the recycling thing happening in our life but now it has become a way of life that we both do, cos it is the norm now. I find I am pulling stuff out the bin still like plastics but we do get the majority done. I am now sharing these beliefs with my five year old too, cos it will be her home in the future that we need to preserve.

Listen to Ashley at the Sustainable Community Festival on Saturday 23rd March in the Albany Town Square