Wellington St Vincent de Paul op shop teaching people to sew with unwanted fabric

A new year often means a new outfit and an increase in the amount of unwanted clothes heading to the landfill. But a Wellington op shop is teaching people how to give their old outfits a second chance.

Tucked away above a Wellington op shop, volunteer sewers are making a small difference towards a giant waste problem, giving textiles destined for the landfill a second life.

"It's become a little hub," says project manager Caroline O'Reilly.

"We've got trainee doctors, trainee counsellors, retirees, people who've just come into the country."

Vinnies Re Sew launched the "hub" in November to reduce textile waste from the St Vincent de Paul op shops.

Instead of spending $1800 on landfill fees every month, they re-sew "unsellable" material into much-needed products.

"We've taken sheets from the InterContinental hotel and we've created little bassinet sheets," says Ms O'Reilly.

It's all made possible with the help of 30 volunteers - some of them experts, others just learning.

Lesi Fale didn't know how to sew when she first came in. With the help of a fashion student she's making shorts.

"For my husband, for my children," she says. "Instead of buying expensive [clothes] from the shop."

It's that attitude that Ms O'Reilly wants to foster. Equipping even one person with basic sewing skills can go a long way to reducing textile waste.

Textiles make up 4 percent of New Zealand's landfill waste, but it's a growing problem in today's world of cheap, dispensable clothing.

Re Sew is hoping to create a change in attitudes by showing every item can have another use.

While Re Sew doesn't need any more donated clothing at the moment, its door is always open to volunteers.