We joined 12 students from Eric Hamber Secondary School on a visit to the Salvation Army’s Vancouver Harbour Light location earlier this week to hand out blankets and toques that had been reconstructed from old fleece Aquarium uniforms.

Under the instruction of teacher Nina Ho, the sewing class of Eric Hamber Secondary School had been diligently transforming the Aquarium uniforms into wearable warm weather items since September. Ranging from grades 10 through 12, the students have been deconstructing uniforms along the seams to save as much fabric as possible to create new items for the downtown eastside community. The students re-used gently worn uniforms to create 45 toques and 52 blankets from over 100 donated fleece jackets and vests. More than 90 per cent of the fabric was re-used.

The warm items were well received at Vancouver Harbour Light; as soon as the doors opened, residents of the neighbourhood streamed in and were very happy to walk away with a new blanket, scarf or toque.

Jonathan Hulquist, our curriculum manager, says that this multi-faceted project is a unique Aquarium conservation initiative created to help divert waste from the landfill. It is also a fantastic way for the Aquarium to get students involved in a volunteering opportunity that gives back to the community. We hope to make this project a holiday tradition to help make the holiday season a little warmer for members of our community

The students who took part in the project enjoyed a special field trip before heading to the Salvation Army. The participating secondary school students spent the morning at the Aquarium learning about how animals create and reflect light through the holiday feature, Luminescence. Transportation between destinations was generously donated by Landsea Tours.

Vancouver Harbour Light is one of the largest Salvation Army centres in British Columbia and comprises a drop-in centre, learning centre, emergency shelters, corrections residential facilities, detox, treatment and much more.

Did you know ?

The idea to reuse uniforms is part of the Aquarium’s low waste conservation efforts. The Vancouver Aquarium was registered to ISO 14001, an international standard for environmental management (EMS) systems in 2009, and has since been dedicated to reducing negative environmental impacts. The Aquarium’s environmental management system team is always brainstorming new ideas to reduce waste, purchase sustainable items and conserve water and energy.

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