Top quality rubbish: Turning trash into fashion and jobs

Top quality rubbish: Turning trash into fashion and jobs

A social enterprise that has sprung up from one of our pioneer mission units in Levin is on a mission to create employment and be better kaitiaki (guardians) of our resources; and is about to take its mahi (work) to the next level.

Refreshed is a business started by the people of Greenhouse Community, which is in covenantal relationship with the Parish of Levin and with our diocese, and has been creating zero-waste products for about a year.  It is now about to launch a new product range called the Rubbish Bag: a series of satchels made entirely from waste materials otherwise destined for landfill.

“We make all our products in our Levin-based workshop – which is actually my garage!” says David Brewerton, one of the kaitiaki of the Greenhouse Community.  “For each of our designers, if they create a product that Refreshed sells, they get 50% of the profit,” he adds.  But as well as this source of income, Refreshed wants to get to a level where they can employ paid staff.

That’s where the Rubbish Bag comes in.  Refreshed is launching a crowdfunding campaign to help with the development and production of this new product, and is calling us all to get in behind this fantastic initiative.  “We hope that by launching this new product range, we’ll be able to increase sales and awareness, so that eventually we can create some paid employment,” says David.

The bags themselves are made of materials like old seatbelts, plywood offcuts and discarded billboard advertising – so there’s absolutely nothing wasted in their design.  The cleverness of such a design is thanks to David’s day job: he teaches product design at a Levin high school.  “I’ve taught the designers how to use open source product design software, so anyone can download it and become a designer,” David says.  “We raised enough money to purchase a laser cutter, so all our products are made locally.”

Refreshed is a fantastic example of the body of Christ working together, each member contributing their time and talents, to bring about a restorative purpose.  “It’s all about holistic guardianship,” David says, alluding to his role in the Greenhouse Community as kaitiaki of the community, but also to the initiative’s aim to take care of our physical environment.

The crowdfunding campaign is on Kickstarter – you can pledge financial support here.  To receive updates, click here, and follow Refreshed on Facebook and Instagram.  You can see more of the Rubbish Bag in this video, and you can also purchase their existing products on their website,

To read more about the Greenhouse Community, click here or read about the 2017 Synod Hotspot featuring Adie Brewerton.