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Fast fashion can fill up landfills quickly -- with old t-shirts, jeans, and bedding ending up in the trash each year.

The Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities wanted to do something to change that, as well as provide training and opportunities for people in their own community.

Enter the GNWT’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Initiative (WRRI), which has invested in the Committee’s work three times.

Related: Craft Beer and Community Waste Solutions

The investments helped them train clients to repurpose discarded clothing into sewing and craft supplies. Using donated items that would otherwise have ended up in landfills, folks who took part created reusable bags, purses, quilts, safety masks and other useful items and crafts.

“This program is important to the organization and the clients as we want to show others that small projects like ours — repurposing clothing, linens and other items heading to the landfill — can be turned into something useful and purposeful,” says Pravina Bartlett, Executive Director of the Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities. “Our clients enjoy making items and participating in projects that contribute to the reduction of waste in our community of Hay River.”

In 2020, the program started making masks from torn pillow cases and sheets.

They first received WRRI funding in 2014, selling their wares at the local Fall Fair and winter markets. Since then, the program has continued, popular with customers and creators alike.

“The funding we received from WRRI was an integral part of the project, as it created an opportunity for local youth to learn new skills in a leadership role,” says Bartlett. “They had an opportunity to inspire the clients in creating their projects.”

Moreover, by refashioning trash into treasures, they proved that just because something is discarded, doesn’t mean it’s garbage.

 

PHOTO: Courtesy of Hay River Committee for Persons With Disabilities