Belfast City Council – Belfast City Council Stitch and Style

 

Best Green Event Award

 

“Winning the Best Green Event for our textile project, Stitch and Style, was a huge honour and a great accomplishment for Belfast City Council’s Waste Management Service. Stitch and Style encouraged waste prevention as well as recycling by teaching people to sew, mend and embellish their own clothes. To be recognised by an independent panel for our hard work in encouraging environmental behaviour change was incredibly gratifying. By keeping to a smaller budget we needed to develop more creative and innovative ways to communicate our message, and with Stitch and Style it certainly paid off!”

 

Mary McGinn, Resource Education and Promotions Officer


Belfast City Council Stitch and Style

Background & Objective

The aim of Stitch and Style is to raise awareness of textile waste in Belfast and across Northern Ireland and to encourage people to reduce it. In NI people dispose of approximately 25,000 tonnes of textiles to landfill every year. A disposable attitude to clothes exists and our environment is suffering as a result.

 

Belfast City Council (BCC) wanted to teach people how to make the most of the clothes that they own, thus reducing waste to landfill.

The primary objective in promoting the event was to maximise waste-free methods of communication from planning through to execution.

BCC Waste Management Service is committed to environmental sustainability. The Service holds ISO 14001 for Environmental Management and ISO 9001 for Quality Management.

Stitch and style was planned and executed in a waste-free way that maximised online publicity and social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, BCC website).

No leaflets or business cards were permitted on the evening by exhibitors and all correspondence was by email.

Posters (50 in total) were printed on 100% recycled paper in line with Council policy.
In pre-event face to face marketing BCC used a placard with the poster graphics to draw attention and distributed bookmarks that had the website stencilled on them. These were recycled from handkerchiefs that were salvaged from a factory that was closing down.

 

Implementation

BCC advertised in targeted media including fashion magazines, style websites, fashion columns of local papers etc.  They issued a press release to the main local newspapers and it appeared 19 times. They started a Facebook group and had over 200 people registered as ‘friends’. As well as Facebook they had information on BCC site, where people could register for the workshop element of the night.

 

BCC limited posters to 50 in total and displayed them in key locations across Belfast.

BBC Radio Ulster covered the event as well as other smaller local radio stations.

 

Throughout the first Stitch and Style BCC made sure that all materials used to promote the event helped the Council maintain its green leadership qualities. All posters were printed on 100% recycled paper.

 

The main promotional material was an A3 placard using poster graphics. BCC supplemented this with recycled bookmarks made from handkerchief material from a factory that was closing. They stencilled the website on the material and distributed them as bookmarks.

 

BCC reduced the environmental impact of the event by maximising free online publicity, e.g. BCC website and Facebook group. This greatly reduced the need for printing more posters and leaflets. BCC dressed the venue with recycled baubles made from discarded wallpaper. These can be reused in future events.

 

Audience

The target audience for this event was mainly women, although men were not excluded! They particularly wanted to target young women that may not have been taught basic sewing skills at school. Clothes are becoming cheaper and have a very high turnover from season to season. They  wanted to encourage young women who like to keep up with fast trends that they can do so without unnecessarily disposing of textiles.

 

By hosting the event in the Black Box in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast they attracted a young, trendy crowd that were very fashion conscious.

 

Results

BCC advertised Stitch and Style on their website and Facebook and started an online registration form 2 weeks prior to the event. Within 4 days of the form going live they had reached their limit of 80 people. After careful consideration and due to high demand, they changed the proposed layout of the venue to allow up to 120 people to apply. Within 3 days they had reached a new maximum capacity.

This in itself shows just how successful Stitch and Style was.

 

BCC had approximately 350 people attend the event throughout the evening. Of all the people that provided feedback online, 92% said that they would be interested in taking part in another similar event.

 

They received press coverage in local newspapers, magazines and online fashion blogs. The press release appeared 19 times, before and after the event. On Facebook over 200 ‘friends’ joined the Stitch and Style event.

 

With people still applying to attend the workshop, even after they had reached 120 people, they decided to host 3 more Stitch and Style events.

 

Budget

Stitch and Style was organised as part of a wider campaign by Belfast City Council to raise awareness of waste issues. This larger campaign was Waste Week ’09 and due to recent budget cuts the week long series of events this year had a much smaller budget than previous years. Our online focus for promotions and minimal paper use allowed them to keep costs down. Stitch and Style had an overall budget of £3,500 all in.

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