Festival of Thrift set to promote sustainability with clothes swaps, bike fixing, and gyroscopic flying machine

ITS dictionary definition of using money and other resources “carefully and not wastefully” is a Dickensian concept that resonates powerfully today.

Embroidery artist, Jessica Grady is running workshops at this weekend's Festival of Thrift Picture: James Hardisty

But although it conveys a serious message, the Festival of Thrift has the accent firmly on fun, says creative director Stella Hall.

She explains that the “national celebration of sustainable living”, taking place near Redcar this weekend, aims to suit all tastes “from those dipping their toe into exploring how to live a sustainable life to the activists of Extinction Rebellion”. “It’s not about banging anyone over the head”, she adds.

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“It’s a celebration, an outdoor festival, it’s about fun, building a creative community, and as a creative community how can we work together and share with each other, what kind of future we want, what kind of world we want.”

Cast-Away by Highly Sprung Picture: Andrew Moore

After heading online last year due to the pandemic, the weekend offers “thought-provoking” performances, food, music, dance, debating and song.

Festivalgoers can enjoy “every aspect of sustainability” – from swapping clothes, to fixing bikes, and ethical shopping.

There’s festival staples – the Fixit Cafe, where people can bring something that needs mending and fix it over a cup of tea and the sustainable fashion show, featuring fashions made using recycled clothing donations.

Eclectic entertainment includes a gyroscopic flying machine commissioned for Coventy City of Culture 2021 which explores the impact of today’s throwaway society on the waterways, a parkour performance on a boat made of scaffolding and a pitch and putt course with a watering hole.

Traders at the festival in 2017

“Thrift is the Dickensian version of sustainability, so hopefully thrift appeals to the older generation who knows what it means,” said Ms Hall, who adds that younger generations are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of fast fashion.

Young people, who have been taking part in a public-speaking project in the run up to the festival, will take to the podium over the weekend. Meanwhile speakers in the “EnlightenTent” include creative duo Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway, who co-founded the festival back in 2012 and Jade McSorley, model and founder of the Loanhood fashion rental app.

The festival came to the village of Kirkleatham, near Redcar in 2015, shortly after the closure of the steelworks.

“They (Redcar and Cleveland Council) welcomed us with open arms and we’ve been in Kirkleatham ever since,” she said. “We get an audience from all over the country – Yorkshire is very much part of the mix.”

Several artists and workshop leaders are based in Yorkshire including embroidery artist Jessic Grady.

Ms Grady will be leading hour-long workshops, where people can embellish recycled jute bags with “sequins” – made from everything from plastic packaging, to washers and fabric scraps.

The festival runs on Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm. Entry is free. Parking costs £6 per car.