Vancouver non-profit has elephant-sized impact on fabric waste – Our Social Fabric

Vancouver non-profit has elephant-sized impact on fabric waste

Pile of fabric bolts waiting to be sorted

In the first three months of 2023, Our Social Fabric has saved over 7,000 kilograms of fabric and sewing-related materials from landfill. That’s more than a fully grown male elephant! Since 2017, when they started recording data, they have diverted 197 tonnes of textiles and sewing-related materials from landfill.

With increased awareness of the impacts of fast fashion and the renewal of home sewing, Our Social Fabric is providing a valuable source of low-cost yet sustainable fabrics and supplies to a growing market.

Our Social Fabric has been in operation since 2009. Prior to that time, huge amounts of surplus fabrics from designers, manufacturers, the movie industry and wholesalers were ending up in the landfill. Now the non-profit accepts donations of these waste materials and makes them available to purchase by the general public. They sell those donated fabric and fibre-arts supplies online and through twice weekly sales at their unique brick-and-mortar store on Venables St.

Joanna Wyatt, chair of Our Social Fabric’s board, explains “Our organization has over a decade of experience and an established team of volunteers and networks to make sure unwanted, but usable, textiles make their way into the hands of those that can use it.”

Wyatt continues, “We believe that fabric waste can not only be avoided but channelled to create positive change in our community. As a non-profit, we price our fabrics cheaply aiming to make just enough to keep our organization running. If we have profits they are used as financial and in-kind support for fibre arts-related organizations, educational institutions and other non-profits working in our region.”

The organisation has grown significantly in recent years through the introduction of its online store (as a direct result of the pause in face-to-face sales due to COVID-19 restrictions) and they now ship across the country.

Sale events at their store are largely run by volunteers who are always happy to give advice and discuss fabric with new and seasoned home sewists alike.

Our Social Fabric is located at 270-1275 Venables Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 2E4. Their retail store is open for in-person shopping Thursday 3 pm - 7 pm and Sunday 10 am - 1 pm. Drop in to shop for apparel fabric, home decor fabric, quilting supplies, notions, patterns and used sewing machines.

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