About two years ago, Michelle Downey noticed that a lot of people were donating their clothes to thrift stores in town.
It was the beginning of the pandemic, and a lot of Campbell Riverites were going through their closets and getting rid of clothes they no longer wore. However, thrift stores were getting so many donations that a lot of the clothes actually ended up going to landfills, Downey said.
She thought that there had to be some better way to use the clothes, particularly with issues like poverty and homelessness affecting many people in the city.
She decided to start the Sustainable Clothing Project, which helps keep perfectly good clothing out of the landfill and helps people in the city who are in need of a bit of a break.
“In a community our size, there’s lots of need. There are people who can’t even afford to buy at the thrift store. People are struggling,” Downey said. “People don’t have anywhere to take their clothing when there’s a real abundance, so I just wanted to provide an alternative.”
The goal of the project is to redirect used clothing that would otherwise be destined for the landfill and provide it for agencies working with people experiencing homelessness, poverty or who may not be able to afford to shop for new clothing.
Clothing is an essential need, Downey said, just like food.
Since the project started, Downey has been dealing with the Transitions Thrift Store as well as private donors to help distribute clothing. The clothes go to agencies like Kwesa Place, the Salvation Army Lighthouse, as well as the Riverside Village, which was set up by B.C. Housing to help the people displaced by the 2020 apartment fire.
“There is always a mixture of clothing. There’s 75 people down at the Riverside Village, and half of them are children. When I discovered that, we started to help get clothes to them,” she said.
Those interested in the project can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is also looking to expand the project, but will need more volunteer help to be able to do so. Those interested can contact her as well.