Sunday, April 26, 2015

ZERO WASTE and the TEXTILE INDUSTRY - Metro Vancouver In Collaboration with Vancouver Eco Fashion Week 2015

With her talent for building partnerships, Myriam Laroche, Founder and President of ECO FASHION WEEK, brings more support for the whole eco movement and continually finds new ways to increase awareness, education and strategies to make sustainability a goal and best practise at all levels of business and industry.  In terms of fashion, reusing is a beginning.  She was raised in a large family and second hand was second nature.  Quality fabrics made clothes infinitely more durable and long lasting.  Choosing quality over quantity was another necessary decision with so many children to clothe. And then, once something is worn, how could it be repurposed rather than being wasted. We are tasked with the same decisions now, but even though we have more technology to take the old and make it something new, there are still many challenges.  The four speakers discussed some of those they face in their work, in detail.

Myriam always  welcomes everyone and is happy for us to share successes and plans and to connect up and collaborate; although sustainability begins with the individual, it will be the groups, the businesses small and large, organizations, governments, cities, countries and world that will have to come together to ensure many more Happy Earth Days.

Vancouver Eco Fashion Week President Myriam Laroche
Image via Eco Fashion Week

Speaking - Heather Deal - Chair of MetroVancouver Regional Park Committee
The Panel - left to right - Wes Baker, Tony Shumpert, Joy Mauro, Glencora Twigg
Image via Eco Fashion Week

Joy Mauro, Tony Shumpert, Myriam Laroche
Image via Eco Fashion Week

Ashleigh Said - Public Relations Manager 
of Eco Fashion Week and Fashionable 
PR Co-ordinator Vee Pho

At the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, we were treated to a wonderful lunch, and introduced ourselves around the tables.  I was inspired to meet an Environmental Engineer, a Colorist, a Community College Education and Fashion Arts Coordinator, as well as others working on water projects in Africa and locally.  At the table behind me were Designers and Spinners working with Flax.  Each table group featured so many resources and diverse talents. I connected with an Ecologist who is writing a book, and I hope to read and learn more about "thinking like nature", in a future interview. 

Starting in small groups, encouraged lots of sharing of ideas and knowledge, which could then be brought to the larger group, in the Q and A session following the speakers' presentations.  Opening Remarks were by Malcolm Brodie, Chair, Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Committee and Chair, National Zero Waste Council and of course, "Happy ECO Fashion Week, everyone", Myriam Laroche.  Heather Deal, Chair Metro Vancouver Regional Parks Committee, and Councillor, City of Vancouver, very efficiently kept a keen eye on the schedule as well as bringing reflection, encouragement and humor to the whole afternoon.  I loved it when she introduced herself as "...dressed head to toe from Value Village."

Metrovancouver = "services and solutions for a livable region" and in that capacity, sets policy for the district.  The Zero Waste Council brings together businesses, government and many others so that Canada is united in the goal of achieving zero waste for ours and future generations.  More information at

The Panel:

Glencora Twigg, Co-founder, twigg and hottie boutique and WE3 Designs

Co-founder of twigg and hottie boutique and We3 Designs, well known for "..being one of the best sustainable fashion brands", made with quality in Canada.  12 years in retail business on Main and every brand is eco/sustainable. This means analyzing and reducing amount of waste in every step of the process.  "The boutique is committed to making best-practice decisions and staying true to the eco-material mandate." Glencora is also committed not only to learning more herself, but also to educating everyone she works with in the business and in the whole community.

Joy Mauro, Founder, Turnabout

Joy discussed the rise in popularity of resale of high quality clothing and accessories for men and women.  She has seen the business grow from one store, started in the 1970's to three stores in Vancouver and one in South Surrey.  "Resale has become a culture."  She is committed to the 3 r's of recycle, renew and reward.  Quality clothing and sustainable materials last, can be reused and remade and offer rewards in terms of not wasting, not over purchasing and having the wardrobe that is a constant reminder of the value to yourself and to the environment of being eco-responsible.  And what happens to the clothing that doesn't sell in the stores?  It is donated to BC Children's Hospital thrift and others.  And what about dry cleaning and toxicity there?  She has her own cleaning equipment and uses carefully selected, companies that use eco-friendly products and practises.

Tony Shumpert, Vice President of Supply Chain Operations-Value Village

"Tony has been instrumental in establishing Value Village as a global leader in clothing and textile recycling, diverting more than 650 million pounds of goods from reaching landfills." Over 350 stores and growing, VV partners with non-profit agencies like Big Brothers and Developmental Disabilities to stock stores and also does a great job of taking customer donations, offering reward programs and lots of fabulous incentive sales. The very best of everything goes on to the sales floor while the rest is recycled in numerous ways.  Ten years ago, only clothing and shoes were recyclable but now practically everything is recyclable.

Wes Baker and Tony Shumpert
Image via Eco Fashion Week

Wes Baker, Co-founder, debrand Services

Wes is the Director of Innovation and Environment for debrand Services, a company "that recycles textiles while offering brand security to businesses such a Nike, Coca-Cola, and Lululemon" His expertise is fabrication and production and he, like everyone in attendance at this forum, is passionate about the environment.  He discussed the complexities of recycling and some of the solutions he is working on.  Did you know about liability waste?  Think security uniforms - that can't be sent to thrift stores or resold to the general public.  How can these materials be recycled? They must be deconstructed by machines and then reformed for other uses such as mattress stuffing and insulation. Blended materials are hardest to deconstruct and natural fibres, much easier. We can look to the natural food movement for examples of organic, buying and sourcing locally and many more recycling strategies.  Community Gardens offer excellent examples of collaborative teamwork and growing food in containers on top of industrial land.  Partnerships between government and community groups can be immediate and more cost effective.  Communication is key:  who is already recycling efficiently and how can their technology and methods be shared.

There is so much more to be done to achieve Zero Waste everywhere.  And today, is Fashion Revolution day.  Wear your clothes inside out and have a look at those labels.  Have a gander  What's going out in your garbage?  No plastic, nothing in the wrong bins, and no, no textiles, please.  3 R's and beyond!

A very large audience had many questions and ideas.  Please share your comments.  Thanks!

Wes Baker, Tony Shumpert and Joy Mauro
Image via Eco Fashion Week

Before the discussion, delicious lunch, catered by the Vancouver Fairmont Waterfront Hotel

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