On Saturday I attended an event of simple ideas but big ideas. The event’s premise was basically the exact reasons why I created the Life Preloved blog – I wanted to change the way we think about buying. Instead of going to the store to buy something new, how about connecting with our community and seeing what is already out there that someone else no longer needs – it’s economical on every level. Enter Change of Clothes.
Change of Clothes included a panel discussion with event co-creator Claire Theaker-Brown, business consultant Leah M. Wilson, Berg + Betts co-founder Emily Betts and Goodwill Industries of Alberta communications specialist, Janelle Aker. After the panel, participants could learn how to make crafts with old clothing, partake in the clothing swap and have clothing mended to extend the life of the garment. The cost of the event was a minimum $5 donation which went to Suit Yourself, a nonprofit that provides clothing to those entering the work force, organizers also asked for clothing donations to Goodwill, Suit Yourself and/or the clothing swap.
The panel discussion was really enlightening and the entire room was very engaged. Unfortunately, I don’t have pics of this portion as I was busy writing notes and embracing the moment of being in a room of collective thinkers but you can find lots of panel pics by searching #chgofclothesyeg on Instagram or Twitter. Here is a bit of what was discussed:
Q: Sustainability is a loaded word, how do you define it?
Leah: Helping environment, people and profiting. As business owners, we often forget about the profit.
Emily: Asking questions to big brands, such as what do you do with your scrap materials such as leather. Sustainability doesn’t mean granola, it can make big statements.
Janelle: Goodwill invests back in the community, all proceeds from sales stay in Alberta.
Q: What’s left to do in terms of sustainability?
Emily: Berg + Betts struggled to find Canadian manufacturers for their watch faces but to be sustainable and economical, they had to source overseas and had to come to terms with that decision.
Janelle: Goodwill diverts millions of waste from landfills (the exact number can be read in their annual report). Any non sellable textiles are turned into cleaning cloths or cut into strips to be used as punching bag filler.
Q: What support do you need to be sustainable?
Leah: Keep supporting the local community.
Emily: Ask hard questions, ask production lines about their scrap and where it’s going.
Janelle: Show social media love, Instagram is great for inspiration and investing in a non monetary way. Make sustainability into a lifestyle and not a fad.
Q: Where do businesses find balance in sustainability and making a profit?
Janelle: Goodwill raised prices last year by one dollar but this was a difficult change for their low income shoppers.
Emily: Berg + Betts is still in their start-up phase. They want to ensure prices are accessible for all instead of raising prices. Currently, all pieces are under the $100 mark.
Leah: Consider asking customers how much they would pay for the value of the service or product to ensure business owners aren’t under valuing themselves.
After the panel, I took three items to the repairathon room to have the buttons sewn back on some favourite items that have been sitting in a ‘to-do’ pile for far too long. Thank you to the volunteers from Edmonton Repairathon for their handy work, I can’t wait to wear these items again!
I also checked out the clothing swap which was so much fun! I saw so many great items on the racks and participants chatting when one of them would see that their donated item was finding a new owner.
I ended up taken home three items, an Obey tank (one of my favourite brands), a Covet blouse and a Tart dress. All my items are in the wash and I can’t wait to wear these items from my first clothing swap!
It’s clear that everyone had a great time at Change of Clothes and took part in many of their different sustainable activities. I will very much be looking forward to more of these in our great city and continuing the conversation on sustainability!
Until the next thrift!