Friday was basically the BEST DAY EVER!  I had the chance to go on a field trip to Goodwill with some amazing grade 7 and 8 students from a school in my district!  I went thrifting, for work!  Though I don’t work with these particular students, I have worked with their innovative teachers in the past and those innovative teachers just happen to follow my thrifting adventures and just happened to invite me to participate in “Eco Project Runway,” their new program for Alberta Education’s pilot curriculum, Career and Technology Foundations.  Eco Project Runway is the only one of its kind and aims to educate students about sustainability and equip them with both values and skills to uphold those values!  It is simply AWESOME!

You're looking at two brilliant teachers right here!  Susanne, Principal and Denise, Assistant Principal of Ecole Dansereau Meadows.
You’re looking at two beautiful brilliant teachers right here! Susanne, Principal and Denise, Assistant Principal of Ecole Dansereau Meadows School.

I must admit, I’m not used to teenagers.  I’m used to preschoolers who you can always win over with a sticker in a pinch.  I *might* have spent an inordinately long time considering what to wear for the field trip.  And I *might* have changed my shoes at the last minute to something that I thought would be more down with the youth cooler hipper happening stylish according to teenage girls who basically control economics.

Outfit take 1: BCBG silk tunic $5, leggings $6, red leather bag $10, shoes $3.
Outfit take 1: BCBG silk tunic $5, leggings $6, red leather bag $10, shoes $3.

I wanted to wear something that didn’t make me look old contemporary and wear a well-known and desirable brand – hence the BCBG.  Whenever you’re not sure how “ethical” a label is, the safest bet is to thrift it to avoid contributing the fast fashion machine.

I also figured a $5 price tag for BCBG might spark some junior high interest!
I figured a $5 price tag for BCBG might spark some junior high interest!  *If I were 13, I would wear this as a dress.

I also wanted to wear other parts of sustainability in action…

1. Ethically manufactured Flatter Me belt 2. Accessories by LOCAL designer and small business She Does Create 3. Thrifted accessories 4. Accessories I've had forever like my red coral bracelet from Cuba.  It is a keepsake, sparks joy and is well made.
1. Ethically manufactured Flatter Me belt
2. Accessories by LOCAL designer and small business She Does Create
3. Thrifted accessories
4. Accessories I’ve had forever like my red coral bracelet from Cuba. It is a keepsake, sparks joy and is well made.  I’m pretty sure it’s older than the students!
My cat photo bomber did not come on the field trip.
My cat photo bomber did not come on the field trip.

Ran in for cat food, remembered my new awesome booties so changed my shoes!

At this point, I was pretty sure these boots would give me grade 8 cred.
I was pretty sure these boots would give me grade 8 cred.
$11.90 unworn suede boots, originally from Amercian Eagle Outfitter!
$11.90 unworn suede boots, originally from American Eagle Outfitters, which I haven’t stepped into since 3 children ago.
I just want youth to know that you can get perfect trendy pieces secondhand so that they never step foot in a fast fashion retailer ever again.  Is that too much to aspire to?
I just want youth to know that you can get perfect trendy pieces secondhand so that they never step foot in a fast fashion retailer ever again. Is that too much to ask?

Exactly NO girls asked me about my outfit.  But I was ready to explain it, and that’s all that counts.  I met the students at Goodwill bright and early where we were met by Tim, the store manager, Janelle, social media aficionado and Ellen, marketing manager.

Goodwill gals! Me, Ellen and Janelle at @goodwill_ab this morning having tons of fun with grade 8 girls who are involved in an amazing sustainability project that I can't wait to share!! Thanks for the tour and hospitality @goodwill_ab!  You are awesome!
Goodwill gals! Me, Ellen and Janelle at @goodwill_ab this morning having tons of fun with grade 8 girls who are involved in an amazing sustainability project that I can’t wait to share!! Thanks for the tour and hospitality @goodwill_ab! You are awesome!

We had a behind-the-scenes tour and I was blown away!  The huge space was well-organized, calm and pleasant in all regards including friendly warehouse staff!  Goodwill Alberta is a non-profit social enterprise.  All profits go back into their programs including Power of Work centers which offer work training for people with disabilities.  I have been a job coach and worked with people with disabilities since 1993 (!) so this aspect of Goodwill is near and dear to my heart.  I loved hearing Tim and Janelle talk about how Goodwill focuses on people’s abilities!  They recognize that everyone has a unique talent and contribution to make to our community and they exist to help people fulfill that!  I also loved Goodwill’s gratitude towards people who donate and the generosity of our community!  It is important for the students to know that donation is a great step towards sustainability that everyone can take!  I would be curious to know stats of students who shop and donate to Goodwill before and after participating in the Eco Project Runway program.  The program involves all kinds of learning… the students discussed their values, learned how to evaluate the quality of a garment, watched The True Cost then had a thought-provoking discussion.  That was the theoretical part of the program.  Now they’re midway and working on bringing their upcycling designs to life – they’ve each been tasked to create a new garment from secondhand pieces with a budget of $10!  They will learn to sew them then market and showcase their designs.  I don’t know about you, but I want to take this course!!!  Here are some of the designs in action.

Ah-mazing.
Ah-mazing.  They prepared their sketches ahead of time and came with a Plan A, B and C – because you must have a back-up plan when you’re thrifting, which is okay because often the back up ends up being better than the original.
I'd buy this scarf.
I’d buy this scarf.
We all know dresses are better than separates!
This will become a dress!  We all know dresses are better than separates!
These shorts are about to get boho!  This student will add lace pieces and likely have enough lace left over to make another pair or 6 of lace shorts!
These shorts are about to get boho! This student will add lace pieces and likely have enough lace left over to make another pair or 6 of lace shorts!  Maybe I should commission her to make me a pair of high-rise mom-style lace shorts.  Just kidding, don’t want to horrify anyone.
This student is making a double-sided blanket that incorporates elements from her own childhood and her mothers.  Bonus points for thinking of your mom!!
This student is making a double-sided blanket that incorporates elements from her own childhood and her mother’s. Bonus points for thinking of your mom!!

I cannot wait to see the showcase of their final projects!  I was astounded by the students’ creativity!  Everyone had a different plan, and everyone found what they needed within budget!  When was the last time you could say that?!

Gotta love teenagers!
Gotta love teenagers!

The lucky mom chaperone even found a few things…

New with tags top, Calvin Klein pants, a stunning bracelet AND china that matches her wedding pieces!  SCORE!
New with tags top, Calvin Klein pants, a stunning bracelet AND china that matches her wedding pieces! SCORE!  And she let me take pics so basically she’s my new best friend.  (Wanna go thrifting next week, Monica?)
It's no one's fault the students started right by the shoes and didn't need our help right away.  :)
It’s no one’s fault the students started right by the shoes and didn’t need our help right away.  What’s a principal to do?!

I almost teared up talking to Susanne about Eco Project Runway.  The core curriculum is certainly important, but this project will change lives.  The students have already started to shift their perspective towards sustainability.  They now know about fast fashion and have information and skills to make a different choice.  It gives me immense hope and brings tears to my eyes.

THANK YOU Goodwill for your hospitality and community!  Thank you Susanne and Denise for creating and undertaking this important program!  You are trend-setters of the very best kind!  As a closing comment, I’m sharing the “Buyerarchy of Needs” by Sarah Lazarovic of A Bunch Of Pretty.  Next time you buy, be inspired by these Eco Project Runway students and think of this:

Buyerarchy of Needs

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Edmonton blog roundup: Oct. 5, 2015 | Seen and Heard in Edmonton

  2. This is so amazing. I so wish I had this program! In high school we had a similar thing where we had to fashion outfits from donated t-shirts which was pretty neat but I love that they are teaching the students about fashion sustainability as they are at the age of becoming a part of the system. I think everyone needs this class. Great job!

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