UOW students finding some new threads at the clothes exchange

Environment and fashion conscious students gathered at the University of Wollongong today to take part in the popular recycling craze, clothes swapping.

Claire Johnston, the Co-ordinator of the university’s student magazine, Tertangala and an Enviro Collective member, said trading clothes at a swap is a great alternative to buying new clothes from retail stores.

“You never know, something might look better on someone else,” she said. “It’s not our own idea, we’ve obviously taken it from other people which is perfectly fine, it’s all about sharing skills and ideas, and it’s recycling.”

The Enviro Collective is a group of UOW students who meet on a weekly basis to share knowledge and information about environmental issues, and work towards making the UOW campus greener and cleaner.

“We have been doing that for a very long time,” said Johnston. “Most recently we’ve been quite active trying to get the uni to purchase all their energy from renewable sources and we’ve been quite outspoken on the issue of the university wanting to build a gas-fired power station on campus.”

The collective believe the power station would almost certainly use some coal seam gas in its operation and have been lobbying the uni to shelf the plans.

“A lot of the members of the Enviro Collective, including myself are involved with Stop CSG Illawarra,” said Johnston. “We decided a gas-fired power station on campus is a pretty unnecessary addition to our campus so we contacted the university and said ‘Hey, look,’ we don’t think this is a very responsible idea’ but that didn’t work, so we held a forum, and that didn’t work. Last year the plans were still up for consideration so we had a small-scale rally and speak out.”

The collective are committed to effecting change in the university, but believe in going about it the right way.

“We take things in very logical steps,” Johnston explained. “We don’t launch into an attack plan, we go through all the official channels first and if they don’t seem to be working that’s when we ramp up the pressure.”

The Enviro Collective is concerned with more than just lobbying and protests, though. Along with functions like the clothes swap the group run proactive events, like free weekly screenings of environmental documentaries.

“We’re not all about protests and being negative,” Johnston explains. “We’re a group on campus that also likes to have fun, we like to share information about the environment and how to live more sustainably.”

“I think it’s important that while we’re actively fighting against things which are ruining the environment we have to look at ways in which we can build what we want to see while we’re doing that.”

The Enviro Collective hold open meetings every Wednesday at the university and everyone is welcome to attend.

“You can come along if you just want to see what it’s about,” explained Johnston. “The idea of a collective is that there are different groups of different people who want to come in for different reasons. Not all of them want to take on the same responsibilities and that’s ok.”

 

Words: Matt Baxter
Picture: Courtney Howe
Video: Brad Bulger

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