It’s fall here in Toronto and it’s starting to get cold. It’s time to put away shorts and tank tops and bring out the warm sweaters and jackets. My mom brings up the bins from the basement and we make the switch in our closets and drawers and while we do that, we make a box of stuff that we’re going to donate – the stuff that doesn’t fit anymore or the sweater that we just don’t like anymore. We do this for each of us – me, my mom and my dad. We do this a few times a year, mostly when the seasons change, but sometimes when my mom decides that we have too much stuff.
Over the weekend, I went with my dad to take our bags to Value Village and while he was dropping them off at the back, I hit the racks. As I look through the store it’s obvious that a lot of people have the same routine that we do, because the store is packed. And as I’m walking around, I’m realizing that this is the ultimate in Reusing. It’s not just about reusing what you have (like water bottles and grocery bags) it’s about reusing what we all have. The racks are filled with things being offered up to reuse. Value Village adds up to 10 000 items to the sales floor every day.
My journey as an activist began as a 9 year-old learning about ways that we could embrace habits that would limit our environmental footprint. I was all about picking up litter, saying ‘no’ to plastic and promoting the 3 Rs. I learned early on that of the three, Reduce and Reuse are the ones that make the greatest impact (because it takes a lot of energy to recycle things and less energy is also what we need).
I’m a teenager and like most teens, I love fashion because it helps express who I am. Like most teens, I love going to the mall. Store after store of neatly folded shelves with shirts in piles by size, style and colour. Tables and racks with jeans in different washes. And recently, I got a reality check on the impact I have when I buy clothes.
It takes 2650 Litres of water make ONE t-shirt.
That’s the equivalent of 8 full bathtubs or 5000 bottles of water.
It takes 68,000 litres of water to make ONE pair of jeans.
That’s the equivalent of a swimming pool full of water to make 10 pairs of jeans
or almost 14 000 bottles of water to make 1 pair.
While the 9 year-old me did think about everyday sustainability, fashion wasn’t really on my mind, but the teenage me totally here for it. Thrift shopping is not like mall shopping – you’re not going to find those perfectly folded and sized piles – which make it easy, but not as much fun when you’re going through the racks and find that perfect sweater (with an even more perfect price tag). So, maybe it’s better. No, not maybe – it IS better.
Waste Reduction Week is October 15-21 and each day of that week is going to focus on a different theme or area, including plastics, food waste, e-waste. Tuesday of that week is Textile Tuesday and is all about raising awareness on the environmental consequences of clothing and textiles consumption. I’ve teamed up with Value Village to promote the importance of reuse when it comes to fashion and I’ll be with them in Graffiti Alley in Toronto’s Fashion District on Tuesday October 16th. They have created an interactive art installation calling attention to the issue of textile waste. All of the event details are here and I hope that you’ll come and check it out.