As the Founder and Director of Leverage Lab + The Textile Lab for Circularity, Sara dedicates her time and energy addressing big, real-world systemic problems; this is only possible through disruptive collaboration and collective action. Specifically, Sara supports organisations in mitigating climate change through effective facilitation, inspiration and strategic planning. By leveraging relationships and facilitating collaboration between businesses, government, academia and civil society, Sara is hopeful that we can change the rules of the game for the better. Her passion for engaging people has gifted her with a vast network and an uncanny ability to know who to connect to and when; finding ways of working across silos and building collaborations that are in service to a wider agenda. Over the last five years, Sara has had the pleasure of working with: The City of Vancouver, Government of Alberta, Lululemon, H&M, Value Village, Salvation Army, Intuit, UBC, Surfrider Foundation, Social Innovation Generation (SIG), Intact Insurance, Vancouver Economic Commission, Vancouver Pride Society, United Way, Starbucks, and Hootsuite.
Apparel waste is the fastest growing waste contributor to landfills in North America. 20,000 tonnes of textile waste currently ends up in the local landfill yearly, 95% of it is reusable or recyclable. Worse, no one in the system is working together on a solution. TLC’s objective is a tangible shift toward a circular economy model to address the issue of apparel waste. Resulting in a decrease of apparel waste and proof of the possibility to both industry and policy-makers catalysing a case for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulation. Through the Textile Lab for Circularity (TLC), 25 different organisations from textiles-related sectors (i.e. policymakers, designers, recyclers, manufacturers, collectors, charities, and haulers) will work over a two year period to test and trial practice collaborative solutions that will help eliminate textile and apparel waste in our landfills by 2020.
This project will have a significant impact on GHG reduction. The apparel industry contributes to GHG’s via the shipping of these products to resale markets overseas. What doesn’t get used ends up in landfills that use incinerators causing waste to energy emissions. Promoting circularity through the TLC lab will divert apparel back into circulation and avoid a significant amount of GHG’s from being emitted.
Capitalism is not the the best way nor the fastest way to solve our biggest most complex sustainability challenges. We need radical systemic change and to get it, we need to work together across silos towards the same goals.
MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
When I was 16 my parents moved to Mexico from rural Nova Scotia like the Brady bunch. In rural Nova Scotia, where I grew up, I had a 1000 archers of land to play on, we raised chickens, horses and made maple syrup while my Dad went to work with one of the globes leading oil companies. He was a loyal leader in that company and was proud of his work. When we moved to Lake Chapala, Mexico I was exposed to extreme poverty environmental degradation for the first time. Lake Chapa was on the verge of drying up completely when an international organisation came in to address the problem. They brought all the stakeholders, the fishermen, the water treatment workers, the farmers, and the community. They addressed the problem on the systemic level and worked collaboratively to solve it. The lake today if full of fish and is the main water supplier to Guadalajara. Inspired, I then devoted the next 20 years to studying and practicing strategic sustainable development.