In 2018, Arts Help launched the A.R.T.S Project. The venture focused on taking waste generated from billboards and creating unique, sustainable backpacks, and combating the environmental toll of the fast fashion industry.
“A.R.T.S” stands for the four primary focuses of the project: (A)wareness, (R)eusability, (T)ransformation, and (S)ustainability. In line with our sustainable mandate , Arts Help shifted focus towards the problems with the global growth of fast fashion. Global organizations estimate 20% of the world’s water waste comes from textile production, a number that increased drastically as fast fashion became an industry staple. But the crisis caused by mass-produced cheap clothing hasn’t even reached its peak, with environmental organizations estimating by 2050 that the textile industry will account for 26% of the world’s carbon budget.
With this project, Arts Help saw an opportunity not only to remedy a current problem, but also to inspire future generations to prevent further crises. Billboards are made of durable, waterproof high-quality vinyl, but are often discarded after their brief displays. Partnering with out-of-home billboard companies throughout Canada, Arts Help designers were inspired by the variety of typography, colors, and abstract designs collected. Each backpack only utilized existing material, and creators sewed together pieces into one-of-a-kind designs.
In May 2019, Arts Help sought to distribute the finished products to the community. Ellicott Realty, Canada's largest independent boutique realty firm, sponsored the donation of many backpacks to under-funded elementary schools in the Greater Toronto Area.
Arts Help team member Raquel De Filippis visited schools to present workshops and in class programming to teach students about sustainability. The program focused on youth empowerment, and De Filippis noted how inspired and creative the students were when discussing fast fashion, and climate change solutions.
“Youth empowerment needs to showcase real problems and real solutions, and this project does just that,” said De Filippis, who was extremely touched by the students’ dedication to activism. Although the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-class programming, Arts Help strives to promote its sustainability campaign and education initiatives online.
Arts Help continues to produce A.R.T.S Project programming and other high-impact content - stay tuned for more!