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Celebrate Earth Day and shop for free!

Apr 11, 2024

Yes, you read that right! 

Ottawa Public Library (OPL) is holding a free market in honour of Earth Day!  

On Saturday, April 20 from 11 am to 4 pm - join us in room B-125 in the basement of the Main Branch on 120 Metcalfe Street to browse a selection of clothing, shoes, jewelry, and bags at no cost.  

First celebrated in April 1970, the mission of Earth Day is to inspire, support, and facilitate innovative actions for individuals and organizations to reduce their environmental impact. It is also a great time to learn about changes we can make to help both people and the planet. That’s why OPL is hosting a free market to help everyone learn more about how fast fashion harms both the planet and the workers who manufacture clothes.  

What is fast fashion? 

Fast fashion refers to the rapid production, design, and sale of relatively low-cost clothing in very large quantities. Big names in fast fashion include brick-and-mortar shops like H&M and Zara as well as online retailers such as Shein and Asos. Intended to resemble clothing from the runways of New York, Paris, and Milan, fast fashion garments often copy designs from independent creators as well. To keep up with the ever-changing fashion trends. clothes are rapidly made, marketed, and distributed. Much of the clothing produced to correspond with a given trend is never sold.  

Workers in the garment manufacturing industry are subject to dangerous conditions and receive appallingly low pay. In Bangladesh, the world’s second largest garment exporter, many garment industry workers, primarily women, face potential criminal charges for even protesting for higher wages. According to the Fashion Transparency Index, an abysmal 1% of major fashion brands disclose the number of workers in their supply chains being paid a living wage. This is highly distressing, especially considering a shocking 30% of all clothes manufactured around the world wind up in landfills.   
The environmental destruction caused by manufacturing cannot be understated. Enormous amounts of water are needed to produce one t-shirt, and the fashion industry overall is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions.  Since less than 15 percent of textiles are ever effectively recycled, we need to find ways to divert our clothing from landfills! 

What are some concrete actions we can take to help?   

  1. Don’t be afraid of being an outfit repeater!  
    Refuse to participate in overconsumption and cherish your favourite pieces!  

  1. Have a clothing swap with friends. 
    Have a special event coming up? This is a great way to save money on an outfit you might not otherwise wear by borrowing from a friend.  

  1. Join your local Buy Nothing group to offer and receive free items.  
    Do you have clothes that you no longer wear and wish to donate? Why not post them on the Buy Nothing group in your community so that someone else can give them a new life? This also prevents them from being resold to thrift stores for profit.  

  1. Support local businesses who resell clothes and tailors who repair clothing.  
    A Google search for Ottawa thrift stores yields many great results and will help you find the locations nearest you.  

  1. Learn how to repair your own clothes.  
    Did you know that OPL offers you access to Creativebug, which has thousands of free, award-winning arts & crafts video classes and workshops? Categories include knitting, crochet, sewing, quilting, jewelry, and more!  
    Toutapprendre features courses on sewing in French.  
    Many our branches also host knitting clubs you can join. 

It is impossible to avoid fast fashion entirely, and our goal is not to belittle anyone for buying fast fashion clothing. It’s simply important to make informed decisions about our clothing and reflect on our purchasing habits.   

We hope you will join us at the free market to find something new (to you)!  

Not in need of new clothing? Feel free to drop by the branch anyway and check out our selection of books for Earth Day.  

Can’t make it to the branch? Browse our sustainable fashion booklist here.