Friday, 20 May 2011

Rethink, Revamp, Restyle: Rethink Waste Event

Last weekend was the Rethink, Revamp and Restyle showcase event as part of the DOE/Belfast City Council Rethink Waste initiative. Due to issues with Blogger going haywire last week, I wasn't able to advertise the event in advance, but here is a quick summary of what was involved, including a highlights of my key note speech, and issues raised in the Eco Family Discussion Group I hosted.

There were was an amazing showcase of work on display at the Europa Hotel, that came about as a result of the Rethink, Revamp and Restyle workshops held in Belfast over recent weeks. These 32 free workshops offered classes in various community centres in north, south, east and west Belfast, demonstrating how to restyle and re-purpose old clothes and revamp outdated items of furniture to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill. Alyson McElroy Jaones, organiser of the Fashion and Home Souk events that have now become a staple part of the Belfast lifestyle, fashion and vintage clothing scene, was quick to highlight the wealth of talent and ingenuity displayed by those who took part, many of who discovered otherwise unknown or dormant talents, and have been able to apply these in the home.

There was also a chance for visitors to see examples of revamping in progress from the Salvage Sisters, who did a stage by stage make over of a piece of furniture, while other do-it-yourself stalls offered tips on natural cleaning products and home made crafts.

In my key note speech, entitles 'Rethink the Recession: Making Waste Work for You' I addressed the ways in which learning or developing a new skill can have both financial and environmental benefits. Discussing the current economic climate and how this can cause us to reassess the way in which we value waste, I also debated the need to retain certain skills such as growing your own, sewing and knitting, as a means of ensuring that these are not lost to future generations. In the Growing Green Children from Scratch discussion, myself, Belfast City Council representatives and attendees, discussed the challenges, frustrations and advantages of adopting an Green Living approach in young families.

"As the realities of the economic crisis have started to hit home, more and more people are beginning to realise that from an environmental and financial perspective, taking stock of what we throw away and realising what we can re-use can have long term benefits on our pockets as well as the planet. And I couldn’t be happier that the shift in thinking is being driven as much by the bank balance as it is by the conscience. Yes, as an environmentalist I’d love to say that the values and ideals of the Green movement will be what encourage a change in the way people behave towards the planet. But as a realist, I understand that wide spread adoption of the Green vision will only come about when people believe that it will make them more comfortable, right here and now."

Rethink the Recession: Making Waste Work for You.

For me the event was a fantastic opportunity to shares ideas and to get feedback from how other parents, grandparents and individuals go green in the home. It was also an great means of getting some professional insight from those who work in waste management, and kudos to Naomi Palmer from the Belfast CC Education Team on fielding some of the more specific industry questions.

If you would like to know more about Rethink Waste in Northern Ireland they have a great online presence via their website at or on Facebook.

This week they are observing Compost Awareness week, so for everyone who is looking for kitchen and garden tips, I suggest you get in touch.

To keep up to date with the Rethink, Restyle and Revamp program and any subsequent events organised by Alyson and her team, you can also apply to join the Facebook Group.


  1. Hi Reb, great to see such passion coming through on your blog.

    Currently, I am interested to know what your own and the Green Party's view of the property market is, particularly for first time buyers.

    For example do you believe in the traditional goal of owning your own home. Or, is anyone beginning to think seriously about encouraging property developers to drop their short term thinking and start thinking about creating devlopments specifically for medium or long term rental.

    More and more articles are beginning to appear in mainstream press from respected 'conservative minded' journalists making the financial argument for the flexibilty of rental compared to buying.

    So, if 25-35 year olds in Belfast wanted to seriously consider a 3, 5 or even 10 year rental agreement, what would be on their wish list in terms of the accomodation itself and the terms of ant any rental agreement. Perhaps you would like to throw it out to your friends and readers.

    Kind Regards

  2. Thanks for the comment Tony, I'll be getting in touch as I think an article dedicated to home buying and or rental would be a good idea, look out for an email from me