Threads of Change: Canadian Teens Transforms Textile Waste
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Threads of Change: Canadian Teens Transforms Textile Waste

The Climate Leaders Fellowship spring cycle led passionate high school students in researching waste issues and shaping local solutions. Through impactful donation drives and global collaborations, these young leaders pave the way for a sustainable future.

The fellowship is offered as a collaboration between Stanford University’s Deliberative Democracy Lab and the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

Discover the insights of Vanessa’s journey below!

Age 16
Bayview Glen School
Toronto, Canada

Hi! My name is Vanessa. I am 16 years old and am currently in Grade 11. I live in Toronto, Canada. I love traveling, learning Spanish, karate, and spending time outdoors!

This Spring, I participated in the Stanford x Rustic Pathways Climate Leaders Fellowship as a Student Facilitator and Fellow.

The Fellowship guided me through an impactful project addressing textile waste. Textile waste is a significant environmental problem in Canada, with a staggering 85% of discarded clothing still suitable for reuse or recycling. This statistic underscores the urgent need for action to divert waste from ending up in landfills and adding to emissions. I also looked into the issues associated with the fast fashion industry and the importance of changing consumer buying behavior to reduce strain on resources and environmental harm.

To tackle this issue, I organized a Textile Drive at my high school to divert waste from landfills. The drive was a huge success! Our school collected 23 large bags and 3 boxes of clothing, bedding and linens, and household items, totaling 442 pounds.

I partnered with the Salvation Army and registered my drive with the organization. The Salvation Army is an established charity in my community, and their work has positive social and environmental impacts.

The Textile Drive also served as a platform for raising awareness about the consequences of textile waste in Canada. By highlighting that a significant portion of discarded clothing can still be reused or recycled, I aimed to change the perception and behavior surrounding clothing disposal. My goal was that through this project, individuals would feel inspired to practice more sustainable habits.

The Climate Leaders Fellowship provided invaluable guidance and support, empowering me to lead the initiative effectively and maximize its impact. It was truly a transformative experience that strengthened my passion for environmental sustainability!

I loved hearing about other fellows’ incredible impact on their communities. This global perspective allowed us to learn from one another and collaborate to complete our projects.

In addition, as a Student Facilitator, I supported and guided fellow students in completing their projects through group meetings and coaching sessions. This experience enriched my leadership abilities and helped me build effective communication, collaboration, and mentorship skills. I am so grateful for the opportunity to contribute to my community and work with students to make positive environmental change. Moving forward, I am excited to continue with my environmental efforts.

About the Author

Kayla Anzalone