Fashion design students at a Winnipeg college are taking on a nationwide challenge that encourages up-and-coming designers to find ways to reduce waste by transforming worn garments and scraps into unique and updated outfits.
Research suggests Canadians end up throwing 85 per cent of their textiles into landfills, says Cal Lakhan, who teaches at York University’s faculty of environmental and urban change and specializes in waste diversion.
More than 1.1 billion kilograms of textile waste goes to landfills in Canada each year, Lakhan said, citing data from waste audits and research conducted by Sabine Weber, a professor at Seneca Polytechnic who also works with the sustainability non-profit Fashion Takes Action.
Much of that waste stems from fast fashion — cheap, trendy clothing that’s often only worn a handful of times.
“We just dump it,” said Lee Cirujales, a student at Winnipeg’s MC College, with a tone of frustration in her voice.
“There’s just so much waste in the world,” she added, remarking on how discarded clothes are often shipped off to other countries, with some excess items being burned in landfills.
Cirujales and her classmates at MC College are taking part in the Upcycling Challenge, a Canada-wide contest put on by the advocacy group Fashion Revolution, which encourages students to breathe new life into tired old clothes.
WATCH | See the students’ upcycled designs:
“Even a few garments, like a T-shirt or a sweatshirt that you upcycle and make into something else — a small thing can really make a huge difference,” said Cirujales.
Her entry in the Upcycling Challenge is a knit