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Habitat for Humanity: Reducing waste while warming homes

Habitat for Humanity volunteer Marnie Sleeman takes pride in repurposing old curtains.


For Habitat for Humanity volunteer Marnie Sleeman, working in the Auckland Curtain Bank ticks a lot of boxes. She is very happy to be part of a team that makes homes warmer and healthier, and to play a role in making precious resources go as far as possible.

“What sits well with me is the fact that we're recycling curtains with perfectly good fabric and repurposing anything that's not suitable for curtains,” says Marnie. “I enjoy that. When I had children I was always turning one garment into something else.”

Marnie also enjoys the range of fabric that comes through the Curtain Bank. “The fabric is donated by people changing their curtains, from various sources such as rest homes and family homes, and that's what we reuse,” she says. “We get them in all shapes and sizes, and all are gratefully received.”

AMI is proud to partner with Habitat for Humanity, to help it achieve its goal of transforming the lives of 75,000 Kiwis over the next three years through warm, dry housing.

Marnie washes and measures the donated curtains, sorting them for the sewing team to finish with new lining. The fabric that is not suitable to be repurposed into full length curtains because it has mould spots or tears can often be made into bags and aprons, which are then sold through some of Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores in Auckland.

“Lining that is not good for curtains, we can use for drop sheets for the tradies. And even the small bits can be used for rags for the workshops.”

Marnie also takes lengths of fabric home with her to sew into shopping bags in her spare time. She likes to keep busy and to do meaningful work.

“I've had a fortunate life, and if I can make somebody else's life a little bit happier and brighter and more comfortable, then that's good with me,” she says.

“I like to think that we're making a difference out there. This is a wonderful organisation, such wonderful people. I enjoy coming in here. Everyone's good company.”