Janelle - From Waste to Tipp Wear
Janelle has been a long term resident in the mountains, having lived in several different towns. Janelle felt that the mountains were the best place to raise her daughter – the village type atmosphere, the friendly people and the local bush an inspiration for her child to discover and grow to connect with. She spent some time commuting to Sydney for work and then started work with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
In 2002, Janelle and her daughter moved to Tasmania where through a house fire they lost all of their personal belongings. It was a devastating experience and they were left wondering what their future was. They decided to return to the mountains to start over again where they immediately felt immersed back into a community that they knew and loved - seeing old friends and work colleagues, and being part of their local Aboriginal community.
Janelle reflects that it was a truly inspirational time and how happy they were to be back. "We often wonder about our fire and how it brought us back here to the mountains - we look at it from a very spiritual sense. I believe that the mountains have an ancient healing atmosphere and that this place for thousands of years has had this energy and it brings people back here time and time again. As an Aboriginal person, I am passionate about culture and work to promote understanding and connection to this place through Aboriginal environmental education. I value the all round community interest and commitment to Aboriginal cultural heritage and feel honoured to live in this ancient landscape. I hope to at least do my part in the conservation and preservation of this place. When I think about sustainability I reflect on our Aboriginal ancestors who were a model of sustainability in their culture and lifestyle for thousands of years. There is a wonderful saying that I think rounds it all up for me - if you want to see where Aboriginal people have been, then just look upon a natural and seemingly untouched landscape".
After the fire in Tasmania their local community donated clothes to them and when they returned to the mountains they were told about the Reuse Shed at the Katoomba Waste Management Facility (WMF) where they could find discarded clothes and furnishings for free. Janelle said it was a great opportunity to replace their wardrobe at no cost, and so began her passion with the WMF and friendships with the contractors who sort through the rubbish and also many of the locals who go there as well. It was here that Janelle began to realise the amount of usable 'waste' that society throws away. "I found many wonderful wearable and fashionable clothes shoes and accessories that would otherwise end up in landfill so I thought of ways to educate others and get people excited about visiting the tip to find something re-useable themselves".
With the help of her dance students Janelle created 'TIPP WEAR FASHION' – a way to reuse and recycle clothes. They have performed at the Waste to Art exhibition in both Katoomba and Parkes and are hoping to take the show on the road to further spread the 'Recycle, Reuse, Relove' message. Janelle has now also created 'TIPP WEAR TEDDIES' encouraging people to help reduce landfill, visit the WMF and take home a teddy that is ready to be loved again. She is continually amazed at the amount of soft toys destined for landfill, some still almost brand new. Some of Janelle's challenges for Tipp Wear are about educating people to help reduce landfill and that there is nothing wrong with 'reusing' something that another person no longer wants. Her aim is to help encourage others to commit to a more sustainable lifestyle and remains passionate about this.
This item was posted in February 2009.