Inuvik resident recycling in fashion

Ruth Wright has been teaching local elementary school students how to create outfits from recyclables for nearly 11 years.

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Instead of tossing out recyclable items, one Inuvikian has been collecting valuable junk and helping local youth turn the scraps into wearable items.

Ruth Wright, a volunteer worker who organizes the Artsy Fartsy Recycle Fashion Show, has been teaching elementary school students how to recycle in fashion for around 11 years now.

“Earth Day is April 22. They usually have some sort of function in the park if it’s nice, or at the recreation centre if it’s not. We’re going to be a part of it,” she said.

She’s been involved with the program since it began at Sir Alexander Mackenzie School, and has carried it over to East Three’s Elementary School, where she volunteers with the school to teach recycle art for students in grades 1 through 6.

Everything from shirts, dresses, capes, hats, staffs and necklaces have been made in the past, according to Wright, who’s planning on creating a Marie Antoinette wig out of Yop Yogurt bottles.

“I just found walking up the street a piece of a car on the road, which I can make a necklace out of,” she said.

Ruth Wright, a volunteer worker who organizes the Artsy Fartsy Recycle Fashion show, teaches elementary school students how to turn recyclable items into articles of clothing. Aaron Hemens/NNSL Photo
Ruth Wright, a volunteer worker who organizes the Artsy Fartsy Recycle Fashion show, teaches elementary school students how to turn recyclable items into articles of clothing. Aaron Hemens/NNSL Photo

Whether it be through plastic containers or bags, lids, or pop cans, she said that youth are finding a way to make stuff.

“Hopefully teaching kids that they can do whatever they want if they just gave it half a shot,” she said.

She’s managed to salvage eight outfits from previous recycle fashion shows, which she uses as samples for the new designers.

“The kids are doing the work, but it’s the teenager who has the idea,” she said.

She added that she wants to help youth start thinking about being more environmentally friendly at an early age.

“We don’t need all this junk in our lives, that you can buy stuff at the store, bring your little baggy and container instead of getting everything in plastic,” she said. “Start them to think about recycling, it’s better to reuse than continuing to contaminating everything.”

Some of the youth that she works with, she continued, tell her that they go home and make their parents recycle, or urge their parents to be more conscious of an item’s packaging.

“It’s more important now for them to even just learn about it. Yeah you hear about recycling and all that stuff, but no one really does it,” she said. “They don’t even see what happens if they don’t do that, and if they dont cut out plastics.”

With around eight million metric tons of plastic ending up Earth’s waters every year, she said that now is time to for youth to start recycling.

“You get involved and you tell little kids, they get it in their heads,” she said. “They might not be doing nothing for a few years, but once they get to high school, I’m hoping they’re gungho and they start telling everyone to recycle and they do it as well.”

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Aaron Hemens served as the editor of the Inuvik Drum from January to August 2019. He's responsible for reporting on everything Inuvik, from covering community gatherings and sporting events, to writing the weekly columns. He's a dedicated photographer who loves getting to know the town through the community members that he meets. He's originally from Ottawa, Ont., where he graduated from Carleton University's journalism program in 2018. He can be contacted at 867-777-4545 or at inuvikdrum@nnsl.com. You can check out his photos on his Instagram account: @aaron.hemens.

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