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Seneca News

Pile of clothing

Dumpster Dive is a week-long exhibit at Seneca that raises awareness about textile waste. It’s a collaboration between Sustainable Seneca and the School of Fashion.

Jan. 9, 2020

A large pile of discarded clothing has been mounting at Newnham Campus this week as students and employees are invited to pile on any unwanted but clean garments they no longer need.

The week-long exhibit, titled Dumpster Dive, is a collaboration between Sustainable Seneca and the School of Fashion to raise awareness about textile waste. The message? A wardrobe change doesn’t need to contribute to climate change.

The textile mountain began with approximately 600 kilograms of textile waste retrieved from garbage bins from nine municipalities in Ontario. The initiative is part of a textile waste diversion research study — the first of its kind in the province that analyzes textile waste down to the fibre level — undertaken by Prof. Sabine Weber and her students in the School of Fashion.

“We wanted to provide a glimpse of just how much of the clothing items that typically go into our garbage bins and landfills could have been donated, as they are in fact still wearable and perfectly usable,” Ms. Weber said.

Don Forster, Kelly Drennan, Prof. Sabine Weber

From left: Don Forster, Senior Manager of Environmental, Groundskeeping, Custodial & Support Services, Kelly Drennan of Fashion Takes Action and Prof. Sabine Weber, School of Fashion, check out the Dumpster Dive exhibit at Newnham Campus.

Before the new year, 18 students from the School of Fashion spent two days analyzing the textile waste, weighing, sorting and grading textiles thrown in the garbage. These items were professionally cleaned and treated twice to meet sanitary standards by Seneca’s custodial staff led by Don Forster, Senior Manager of Environmental, Groundskeeping, Custodial & Support Services.

“Waste disposal habits can be hard to break, but we hope this initiative and the number of textile recycling bins on campus will serve as a kick-start for much-needed change,” Mr. Forster said.

To showcase some of the rescued clothing, which ranged from onesies for toddlers to dress shirts and shoes for adults — including those that are brand new and gently used — students displayed some of the looks on mannequins as part of the Dumpster Dive exhibit.

Until Friday, Jan. 10, clean and dry clothing can be dropped off on top of the textile mountain. All items will be donated to Diabetes Canada.