Today is Earth Day, Friends, and we're excited to share a story about reusing diabetes supplies in a hip fashion sense, while also raising awareness!

Conor and Ciara CarewThis one is straight out of Ireland, where the sister of a young type 1 came up with the idea to craft a dress out of used diabetes supplies. It was all part of a national contest organized by the Bank of Ireland, Junk Kouture, that's aimed at inspiring and educating teenagers about the importance of recycling and reusing waste. The contest encourages young designers to create “wearable art” from "everyday junk” that would normally be thrown away.

Sixteen-year-old Ciara Carew came up with the idea for a diabetes-supply dress, inspired by her younger brother Conor who is 12 now and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 6.

Ciara is part of a three-person team calling themselves “You’re Not My Type,” all students at the Presentation De La Salle secondary Catholic school located in the small town of Bangenalstown in County Carlow, Ireland. They not only designed a pretty glamorous dress but also used it to spread the word about type 1 diabetes and what goes into living with this condition.

“Seeing what Conor has to deal with every day, and also realizing how little people know about the condition really made my decision final to go with T1 diabetes as the main aspect of the design,” Ciara tell us. “I've tried to turn something that would otherwise be seen as ugly and a nuisance into desirable fashion.”

For folks whose lives depend on these supplies, it's kind of mind-blowing to see the fashion magic that Ciara and team have created solely from T1D equipment from her brother, along with stuff donated from other people who communicated with their mom via a Facebook group for D-parents.


This headpiece is made from pump inserts and insulin pens and caps.


The top and under skirt are made from approximately 3,500 test strips, and the outer skirt's made from cannulas and insertion sets.


The back tie for the dress is made out of pump infusion sets and reservoirs.


These shoes are made from insulin pen caps and lancets.


The model is Ellen McDonald, and we have to say she looks FAB in this creative D-supply getup!

We’ve heard of several cool ideas for decorating diabetes equipment, but this Irish D-supply creation definitely takes the cake. What an incredibly awesome way to recycle diabetes supplies – particularly in a way that’s so fitting for the Earth Day theme of reduce, reuse, recycle.

We’re not the only ones who think this dress is pretty awesome, as it’s been chosen as one of the best in the six-year-old Junk Kouture fashion competition.

A total of 1,150 designs were submitted by school programs in Ireland and Northern Ireland when the competition launched in September, and since then judges whittled down the finalists to 320 in March, and then to 80 that made it to the semi-finals on April 14.

While this contest is Ireland-based, our Diabetes Online Community helped garner support for the You’re Not My Type team from across the globe. In a public vote contest ending April 8, the D-inspired team was chosen as “the people’s choice” and that got them to the grand finale on April 14, where a panel of judges selected their diabetes dress as one of the four final regional winners in Ireland!

They didn’t snag the overall big win of the competition, as that distinction went to the “Jewel of the Nylon” team based at Our Lady’s Bower school in Athlone, Ireland. Their dress was made from crocheted and knitted pairs of recycled ladies’ tights.

Still, their win as Southern Region Champs was huge and the You’re Not My Type team is flying high with excitement at the moment. Ciara says the whole experience has been incredible.

“I've loved it, for the most part!” she told us just before the April 8 grand finale. “Of course there have been times when it has been difficult, like if a certain piece wouldn't fit together the way I had envisioned it, or if something broke apart and I had to start all over again to redesign it. But overall it has been an amazing experience.” 

Now that the Junk Kouture competition has come and gone, Ciara says she's setting her sights on more fashion events with diabetes awareness weaved in. This summer, she and some friends are planning a summertime ball to help two charitable causes close to her heart: Diabetes Ireland and Scoliosis Ireland. They plan to host a fashion show during those events, with the You're Not My Type dress in the spotlight.Earth Day 2016

Ciara also tells us this could be the beginning of a budding fashion career for her, once she finishes school.

“I’ve always really been interested in fashion and arts, but I had never really thought about it as a career choice until I began preparing for this competition,” she told us. “Over the course of this journey, I’ve grown to love what I have done and am now considering fashion design in the future.”

How lovely to know that she's helping her brother at the same time, as well as the rest of us with T1D.

Happy Earth Day, All! 

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.