News | 20 December 2017

Council uniforms don’t cost the earth

Wellington City Council has partnered with The Formary to literally give the shirts off their staff’s backs – and help save the planet at the same time.

The Formary's Bernadette Casey and Daniella Pretorius working on rash tops
The Formary team work on the rash tops

The two-year partnership with Waste Minimisation grant recipient The Formary has resulted in an audit and analysis of Council staff uniforms, and processes put in place to divert these fabrics from Landfill, and turn them into reusable garments and textiles. 

Foster Hope and Kiwi Community Assistance will be the first recipients of this exciting new initiative tomorrow, when they receive repurposed rash tops previously used by Council SwimWell staff.

Sustainability portfolio lead, Councillor Iona Pannett, is a keen advocate for the programme. 

“This initiative ticks all the boxes as the goals of this project are both financially, environmentally, and socially beneficial for us, the other The Formary partners, and the recipients around the country. 

“There are a number of Council teams who wear uniforms like our Parks, Sport, and Recreation staff, traffic wardens, and local hosts, but this programme now means their garments can be transformed when they reach their expiry date, and repurposed for another use,” she adds. 

The Formary leads the NZ Textile Reuse Programme, a collaboration between some of New Zealand’s most prominent brands and organisations, aiming to create a change in how end-of-life clothing is managed. 

“There is an incredible amount of value that is lost with our current clothing system. By intercepting these shirts we were able to re-engineer them to have a second life with children in need. The resulting work between Wellington City Council, The Formary and community organisations was a collaboration that restores your faith in humanity,” says Peter Thompson, CEO of The Formary. 

The SwimWell rash tops were identified as a good test pilot as the garments were easy to work with. The Formary reached out through their networks to Crafty Volunteers, who removed the Council’s branding and re-stitched new panels into the rash shirts.

St Vincent De Pauls provided the work space and machinery in their new Re-Sew studio in Kilbirnie, with the finished garments going to children through Foster Hope and Kiwi Community Assistance.