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Ripple Movement Surpasses 2-Tonne Milestone in Providing Essential Clothing to Children in Need

AUCKLAND – Ripple Movement, an innovative social enterprise, has surpassed a major milestone, processing over 2 tonnes of essential clothing for children in need since its inception in March 2023. This achievement highlights the growing demand for such services in New Zealand, where child poverty rates remain alarmingly high. The organisation has so far created 200 Gear Boxes—parcels containing all the clothing essentials a child needs throughout the year, saving families between $200-$400 annually. 

Founded by Michelle Jennings, Ripple Movement collects, sorts, and distributes unwanted and outgrown children’s clothing (0 to 12 years) donated nationwide from families, schools, early childhood centres, businesses, and retailers’ excess inventory.  

“It is an easy way to tackle material hardship, textile waste and our carbon footprint - all from our home or workplace” says Michelle who is calling on businesses, schools, and individuals to help meet the growing demand for their services.  

Michelle started Ripple Movement after discovering there was a massive opportunity to create a system to tackle hardship and waste issues simultaneously. The social enterprise is revolutionising the way people can support their communities and the environment through their reuse, repair, repurpose and recycling system. 

New Zealand’s child poverty rates 

New Zealand suffers from one of the worst rates of child poverty in the Western world impacting 1 in 8 kids*. Child poverty has a disproportionately high effect on Māori and Pasifika households, with a quarter of Māori children and almost a third of Pasifika children living in poverty**. 

Children who grow up in poverty are more likely to experience poorer health and educational outcomes and suffer from social exclusion and isolation.*** 

Having fitting, weather-appropriate clothing, shoes, raincoats, and pyjamas is something that many of us take for granted but with the rising cost of living, essentials are becoming luxury items for many families. 

“Our Gear Boxes are distributed by Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children, Women's Refuge Tamaki Makaurau and Middlemore Neonatal Unit, but we are just beginning to scratch the surface. You find these pockets of need everywhere. The extent of what children are going without is upsetting and unnecessary in a country like ours. We need a system and infrastructure in place to connect the dots” she says. 

Women’s Refuge Manager for Tāmaki Makaurau, Linda Thompson said that many of the women they support can’t afford food or clothes. 

“There has been a noticeable increase in the amount of need for children’s clothing lately. With the women we see, they’ve got a limited amount of money and it’s being spread so thin. That’s why the work that Michelle and Ripple is doing is so important for giving women and their children back their sense of mana after the terrible times they’ve been through.”  

Manager at Oranga Tamariki, Sue Gill confirms that Ripple’s Gear Boxes have been truly appreciated. 

“We have had many whānau tell us how grateful they were to have the children’s clothing and we hope that Ripple will continue to support the West Auckland community. 

“Many whānau struggle to have age-appropriate and good quality clothing for their tamariki, and it is great that we can pass the Ripple Gear Boxes on to them.” 

“The thing is that there is no shortage of clothing out there,” says Michelle. “I have had conversations with many parents over the years that struggle to find ways to move their preloved kids' items in an easy and sustainable way - or in a way where items are given to those that need it for free.”  

Meeting the needs of people and the environment 

Textiles are responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, making them one of the most carbon-emitting industries in the world alongside oil, gas and agriculture. In New Zealand, textile waste accounts for approximately 5-6% of landfill and produces about 30% of the carbon impacts. Other environmental damage can include the leaching of toxic chemicals and dyes into the groundwater and our soil.**** 

On top of that, synthetic and blended clothing now makes up the bulk of what the world wears generating huge amounts of plastic pollution. Yet despite the scale of this issue, it rarely gets the airtime it deserves. 

In Europe, sending textiles to landfill will be banned from 2025. If New Zealand follows their lead, solutions are needed fast.  

To date, Ripple has received 14,671 items, and from that, they have reused 10,144 items, repaired or repurposed 331 and recycled 4,196 items through partners ImpacTex Textile Recycling. That’s over 820 kilos of greenhouse gas that has been prevented from entering the atmosphere.  

A call for support 

There are several ways people can support Ripple. Families with unwanted or outgrown clothing can purchase a nationwide collection bag from their website. This can be filled up and collected from your home or dropped into any local post shop.  

Businesses can sponsor a Gear Drive clothing collection bin, where employees can drop in unwanted or outgrown clothing regardless of condition. “Companies really enjoy hosting the clothing Gear Drives because it contributes to their corporate social responsibility goals but also allows their staff to get involved in making a measurable social and environmental difference.” 

Ripple is also about to launch Gear Drives in schools, early childhood centres and kindergartens, where kids and parents can get involved by taking home a reusable sack to fill and return to a temporary school or centre collection station. 

In return individuals, businesses and all other supporters receive their impact statistics including the number of items donated, what has been reused, repaired, repurposed or recycled, and the CO₂ impact of that.  

“Just like you pay to dispose of your kerbside recycling, rubbish, inorganic collections or to take items to the dump, we have a fee on our bags and bins that cover the cost to collect, hand sort, repair, recycle and repack for reuse. It is a different model from how people are used to donating their clothes for free, but it is time we try something new to tackle the issues of hardship and waste,” says Michelle. 

Supporters can also make a financial donation on the website. “The reality is we are just getting started. Ripple Movement is a new social enterprise, with big dreams, small budgets and working in a space where there is plenty to get done. I believe our approach and system can make a difference that can ripple through decades ahead, but we need help to get to where we want to be. 

“We need support to help lay foundations, scale, and ultimately become financially self-sustainable. Everything we do is measurable, and you know exactly the impact your contribution has made,” confirms Michelle. 

To anyone considering supporting Ripple Movement, Women’s Refuge Manager Linda Thompson confirms that the impact it makes to the women and children she sees every day is huge. 

“We’ve received around 60 Gear Boxes from Ripple Movement, and they are like a gift. They come wrapped up with tissue paper and a sticker on the top. The women and their kids unwrap their box and the clothes are all beautifully folded, it’s not just a bag of jumbled clothes. Everything is good quality. For the women we support, it’s such a beautiful gift for them to know they have a whole year’s worth of clothes for their tamariki.” 

To learn more about how to support Ripple Movement, please visit the website:  

To watch the Seven Sharp segment, please visit the website: Watch Seven Sharp S2024E100 | TVNZ+sent on 25 June 2024 10:05