Students to learn about recycling through fashion project

County Durham students will learn about the art of reuse and recycling thanks to a fashion and junk art project.

Durham County Council’s strategic waste team has joined forces with Durham New College to teach art and design students the benefits of reusing clothes and textiles for art.

Over 40 young people will take part in a ‘junk art’ project to inspire them to think about the effects of throwing clothes away and to encourage recycling instead.

As part of the scheme, students had the opportunity to visit Durham County Council’s waste contractor, O’Brien Waste Recycling Solutions, to see for themselves how cardboard, plastic, paper, glass, clothes and textiles are recycled, how to reduce contamination and to understand how waste generates energy.

In addition, the group will take part in education sessions carried out by the council’s strategic waste team, to help them understand the importance of recycling using household bins and taking items to household waste recycling centres.

They will also learn how people should dispose of waste responsibly within the community, on school or college grounds or within the workplace to increase recycling rates countywide.

Finally, students will host a public fashion exhibition using donated and second-hand waste and materials, at Freeman’s Quay Leisure Centre in late spring.

The exhibition will form part of the students’ overall assessment portfolio for their diplomas in art and design and there will be a prize for the best ‘junk art’ project, sponsored by O’Brien Waste Recycling Solutions.

Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “Recycling everyday items such as bottles, cans and paper has become almost second nature to our environmentally-minded residents, but now we’re hoping to challenge attitudes towards fashion and the re-use of clothing and fabrics.

“Recycling encourages us all to take pride in our environment and move further towards a sustainable future for County Durham.”

Chris Cowan, Durham New College’s curriculum manager for visual and performing arts, said: “It’s wonderful to get the students involved in a creative project that benefits the broader community and promotes environmental awareness.”

For top tips to recycle, reuse, revive or repair clothes and textiles visit

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