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Turning Trash into Fashion

With mountains to the west and ocean to the east, the coastal town of Kaikoura on the south island of New Zealand is a place of natural beauty. However, all over the world, environments like this are in danger and need protection.

Location: Kaikoura, New Zealand

The Lions Step In

The Kaikoura Seaward Lions have succeeded in exciting their community about recycling and eliminating waste through the Recycled Trash Fashion Show. “Our show is considered to be one of the icons now in Kaikoura,” said Lion Julie Syme of the Seaward Kaikoura Lions Club. “The community gets together and they really support it.”

In addition to encouraging people from all over the country to reuse items, this project offers Lions the opportunity to reach out to their community and to promote the arts – and themselves. This show also raises funds for area programs, including the all-volunteer emergency responders.

Involve the Entire Community

The Recycled Trash Fashion Show is open to all members of the community, providing anybody who wants to participate an opportunity to show off their creativity and skills or to model these works of art. Even children at the local elementary and high schools have created fashions for the kids and teens categories.

By involving the entire community and giving back to local needs, such as the fire brigade and coast guard, the club has received strong support and new members. “The fundraising from the show will enable us to get a mannequin to practice CPR,” said local firefighter Andrew Painter.

Fast Facts

Lions have donated more than 90,000 New Zealand dollars to their community over the years from this project alone, including thousands of dollars to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Canterbury, Kaikoura Hospital, the Historical Society, cancer support and the Kaikoura Mayfair Theatre. Past Show winners have won a variety of prizes, including cash and helicopter rides for two.

Tips and Tools

Make It Happen: Find Creative Ways to Recycle

Why did the club decide on this project?  »
The small country of New Zealand consists of two islands southeast of Australia. Kaikoura is a coastal town known for dolphin and whale watching. With a limited amount of land, the people here are very aware how important it is to recycle and avoid waste.
How was the idea of this project conceived?  »
In 1998, the Kaikoura Seaward Lions held a bridal show with a Recycled Bridal Gown category. This was so well-received that the club refocused its show to include only recycled creations.
Did you receive support from any other organizations? »
More than 50 local businesses and community members support the Recycled Trash Fashion Show through sponsorship, donations and volunteering.
How do you fund the project?  »
The Recycled Trash Fashion Show is a low-cost project that pays for itself. Contestants pay an entry fee and attendees buy tickets to attend the two-night event. Contestants must make the outfits out of at least 90 percent recycled materials.
Any special words of advice?  »
Entries from children are encouraged for personal growth and confidence, to develop their artistic skills and to encourage recycling. The sponsorship from our community and businesses has been wonderful and has enabled us to give in turn generous donations back to our community.
"It gives them a great sense of pride to be able to get up in front of their family and in front of the community and to have that great experience."

Diane St. Claire,
Hapuku School Principal

" The funds that we raise will be used all for the local emergency services: the fire brigade, the coast guard, fire engine and also a helicopter."

Doreen Tomlin,
Seaward Kaikoura Lions Club

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