On the surface, the fabric we wear and the food we eat don’t seem to have much in common. But there’s one big problem that plagues both: waste. Mass-produced products seem easily disposable and quickly end up in landfill. Inspired by closed-loop growing practices, Seljak Brand blankets offer a much better option for textile waste.
After living in Brooklyn and seeing how its food industry dealt with waste in innovative compost cycles, design graduate Karina Seljak teamed up with her sister Samantha back in Brisbane to start Seljak Brand. Samantha was involved in various cultural projects in the city, including the iconic West End art space The Box and dance event No Lights No Lycra.
The sisters combined their industry and organisational expertise to create and market a blanket made from offcuts from a Tasmanian wool mill. If and when a blanket is no longer wanted, they collect it free of charge via a carbon neutral courier service and return it to the mill to be shredded and remade. “We wanted to work with waste as a resource and were really inspired by the idea of a circular economy, where materials can be cycled again and again.” Samantha says.
Their first blanket was an immediate hit in 2016, and this year the Seljaks are turning their attention to the realities of the warmer Australian climate, running a crowdfunding campaign to develop a lighter summer blanket. “The challenge is working with a different material and finding ways to use other waste streams,” Samantha says. “The process is similar – the textile offcuts will be shredded and spun into a new yarn – but we haven’t found the right waste stream with the right material that’s being consistently produced.”
The campaign has already been a huge success, reaching its initial goal within two days. “It’s so encouraging,” Samantha says, “With the process being so challenging, and the amount of research we need to do, knowing that people are behind us and into what we’re doing makes it that much easier.”
The Seljaks see themselves as part of a movement disrupting the “take, make, waste paradigm.”
“We like the idea of the consumer not necessarily owning things,” Samantha says. “That the maker of the product is responsible for the whole life cycle, and for trying to make sure it never ends up in landfill.”
Find Seljak Brand’s Start Some Good campaign here. It ends June 1.