Study Buddy (Explorer): The Mills’ exhibition shows how to upcycle clothes so they don’t go to Hong Kong’s landfills

  • At the converted cotton mills in Tsuen Wan, ‘We are Textile Culture Net!’ has many ideas for how you can repurpose your old T-shirts and other garments
  • Each week, Study Buddy Explorer presents an interesting story that we have adjusted to be more accessible for all English learners
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“The Landfills”, an installation at “We are Textile Culture Net!”, illustrates a shocking statistic: 200 garments are thrown into Hong Kong’s landfills every 10 seconds. Photo: Chris Lusher

Content provided by the British Council

Read the following text and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] Two hundred garments are thrown into landfills in Hong Kong every 10 seconds. That shocking statistic from the Chinese University of Hong Kong is shown prominently next to a giant wall display made of hundreds of neatly folded clothes.

[2] The display is at the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile (Chat) at The Mills in Tsuen Wan. It should give you pause before you put more clothing in the bin. A new exhibition at the converted cotton mills, “We are Textile Culture Net!”, has many other ideas for what to do with old T-shirts.

[3] Hong Kong group Pop & Zebra have produced instructions for making furoshiki, a square cloth used in Japan for wrapping things. Abhishek Desai and Krupa Joshi Desai are the couple behind the design studio with an anti-consumerist ethos. The pair are holding workshops on simple dyeing methods and creating fabric prints with tools as basic as carved potatoes. They made the eye-catching murals around the exhibition venue highlighting the vast resources that go into making clothes.

[4] With a bit of training, volunteers have joined artist Ma Wing-man in making artistic mobiles using macramé knotting techniques. They have also created a large interactive installation called Roundabout with a giant knitting spool and fabric strips upcycled from “preloved” garments.

[5] Another section features large embroideries showing Tsuen Wan residents’ favourite neighbourhoods. Artist Eastman Cheng explains she recruited the help of women from Asbury Methodist Social Service and spent the summer dyeing wool with food and natural pigments. The team then used the wool to recreate landscapes around Tsuen Wan by using an easy-to-learn “punch needle” embroidery technique.

[6] These are a few of the projects in Chat’s 2022 summer programme, which also includes learning and community projects. The exhibition title, “Textile Culture Net” refers to an international alliance set up during the coronavirus pandemic.

[7] The four member institutions are Chat, the Lottozero in Italy, TextielMuseum in the Netherlands, and the Central Museum of Textiles in Poland. They collaborated through online exhibitions that reflect specific local conditions and fabric art’s community-building nature, said Takahashi Mizuki, executive director and chief curator of Chat.

[8] “Textile art highlights material forms that are rooted in a social context. Inclusiveness, diversity and sustainability are the key themes for all of us,” she said. For example, Your Things was a 2019 project in Poland led by artist Pamela Bozek in collaboration with refugees. They took leftover donated clothes that could no longer be worn and turned them into giant patchworks.

[9] And if you are burdened with something unwearable, you can take it to the “Garment Disassembly Line”. This is a room where visitors can learn to take apart and repurpose old textiles. You can visit “We are Textile Culture Net!” at The Mills until October 9 from 11am to 7pm every day, except Tuesday.

Source: South China Morning Post, August 30


1. Find a word in paragraph 1 that has a similar meaning to “easily seen”.

2. In paragraph 3, who does “they” refer to?

3. According to paragraph 3, what sorts of workshops are Pop & Zebra holding?

4. Decide whether the following statements are True, False, or the information is Not Given in paragraphs 1 to 3. Blacken ONE circle only for each statement. (4 marks)

(i) Furoshiki are made from square pieces of cloth that have been used for wrapping things.

(ii) Of cities in Asia, Hong Kong throws away the most clothes every second.

(iii) One of the exhibition’s main ideas is to urge Hongkongers to reuse their old clothes for new purposes.

(iv) Pop & Zebra has the largest collection of furoshiki in Hong Kong.

5. According to paragraph 4, Ma Wing-man created Roundabout using ...

A. clothes bought from designer stores

B. parts of clothes that had previously been worn

C. leftover fabric from factories

D. his brand-new clothes

6. In paragraph 5, what was used to give the wool colour?

7. According to paragraph 5, what is portrayed in Eastman Cheng’s embroideries?

8. The “Textile Culture Net” was created ...

A. before 2019

B. sometime after 2019

C. in the summer of 2022

D. information not given

9. Find a word in paragraphs 8 and 9 that fits the definitions given below. (4 marks)

(i) pieces of cloth in various colours and shapes sewn together

(ii) something that remains from a larger amount

(iii) to find a new use for something

(iv) to load heavily

At the “Garment Disassembly Line”, take apart recycled garments to better understand the resources involved in the textile industry. Photo: Enid Tsui


1. prominently

2. Abhishek Desai and Krupa Joshi Desai

3. workshops on simple dyeing methods and creating fabric prints with basic tools

4. (i) F; (ii) NG; (iii) T; (iv) NG

5. B

6. food and natural pigments

7. Tsuen Wan residents’ favourite neighbourhoods / landscapes around Tsuen Wan

8. C

9. (i) patchworks; (ii) leftover; (iii) repurpose; (iv) textiles

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