Today at camp, the youth and I were lucky enough to have Sapphire from RevWear come and talk about the use of water and sustainable practices in relation to the fashion industry. We engaged in conversation that situated around one central question: where do our clothes come from? This conversation brought us all around the world, starting in some Eastern Asian, South American and other North American locations where farmers cultivated cotton. From cultivating and preparing materials, these items then travelled miles across the ocean (water) via large sea containers, perhaps making their way to another country to have additional pieces added. Once complete, these pieces would make their way into stores in North American for our consumption. We began to question how then could a shirt be sold for $10? While it may seem like a win for us that the price is so cheap, the reality we learned that was it was at a cost to someone else. From $10, how could the farmers ethically cultivate the cotton that was then shipped in a large container on a ship where crew members and the captain had to be paid. From there, perhaps other individuals had to sew on zippers, or buttons, who also had to be paid. Then finally, they would make their trip to North America to end up on display in a store that has to pay for the t-shirt itself, and also for all of it’s employees. Who looses in these situations when we gain?
We also explored the use of water in the fashion industry as it related to making and washing clothes. Did you know that to make 1 conventional cotton T-shirt, nearly 2,000 litres of water are used? We also learned how the use of synthetic materials in our clothing has a negative impact on the environment as usually when these materials are washed, thousands of micro-plastics and other toxic particles make their way into the water, further polluting the rivers and the lakes.
In the end, Sapphire taught us how to “upcycle” our clothes. Below are some pictures from the day and some of the amazing pieces that the youth created via upcycling.