An art installation at the Vancouver Aquarium took aim at the wastefulness of the modern clothing industry and encouraged onlookers to think twice about the environment.
As Wednesday was National Thrift Shop Day, Value Village designed the aptly named “I Give a Shirt” display to demonstrate how much water is wasted in producing new clothes – over 2,600 litres for one cotton t-shirt, and nearly 7,000 litres for a pair of jeans.
“If we can get a million people to buy a thrifted t-shirt instead of a new one, it’ll be the equivalent of saving 1,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water,” Value Village CEO Ken Alterman tells Daily Hive.
The art display in front of the Aquarium depicted pieces of clothes spilling out of oil barrels and lining the sidewalks of the front entrance. More barrels with facts written on them were dispersed among the clothes.
“The most sustainable clothing that we have are the ones that we already own,” says Alterman. “If each person thrifted a t-shirt versus buying a new one, they’d save thousands of litres of water.”
“Unfortunately, textiles is a very large polluter in how we make clothing. If we can reuse some clothing, we’re way ahead of the game.”
The aim of the art exhibit, says Alterman, was to get a conversation started so people can start rethinking how they purchase clothing.
“A lot of people don’t realize that virtually everything can be captured in the waste stream. It’s about events like this starting the conversation and getting people educated.”
Globally, consumers purchase more than 80 billion pieces of new clothing per year.