OTTAWA – This is environmental elegance and, for that matter, the “junk-ion statement.”
This is a conversation starter for conservation; trash turned into pretty wrappers.
Women Wildlife Photographers, brought together by Ottawa-born photographer Clare Hodgetts, share their exquisite photos, printed on soft, flowing fabrics made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles.
Clare Hodgetts, is one of the founders InFocus Canada, and is the fashion force behind printing magnificent landscapes and exquisite wildlife images into “wearable art.”
“Its mission is to raise money for important charities through sustainable fashion and spread awareness of the extraordinary and beautiful work done by professional photographers,” said Hodgetts.
This stunning scarf is part of the InFocus Canada Athena Collection.
I learned about this project when I received an extraordinarily beautiful Christmas present: a Sable Island horse scarf from one of my best friends.
The friend happens to be award-winning photographer Michelle Valberg, Nikon Canada Ambassador, and Geographical Photographer’s Canadian Residence.
When she gave me the scarf (a delivery on our TV station, because we couldn’t have our annual Christmas visit), I was overwhelmed by how beautiful it was, and how soft it was.
Valberg knows about my love for horses, and that I am a Nova Scotian with an emotional connection to Sable Island and its legendary herd.
When Michelle said, “Lee, that scarf is made from recycled plastic bottles,” my admiration took to the next level.
“Are you kidding? It’s so lovable and gentle. What a wonderful story.”
The Sable Island horse scarf is one of three donated by Valberg of Ottawa for the InFocus Canada project.
“Talk about a dream project,” said Valberg.
“Wearable art made from recycled plastic, showcases beautiful photos by female wildlife photographers, raises awareness and contributes financially to conservation programs.”
One of Valberg’s iconic images, ‘The Boss’, a rare spirit bear – a subspecies of black bear – in British Columbia’s Big Bear Rainforest, is featured on one of the packs.
Each photographer selects his preferred conservation efforts and a portion of the sales will be donated.
Valberg supports Raincoast Conservation (protecting the home of Spirit Bear, its detectives, and countless other species) and The Nature Foundation, part of Canada’s Museum of Nature.
“Clare does an amazing job curating the photos woven so perfectly into these lush, soft fabrics (unexpected considering they’re made from recycled bottled material),” says Valberg.
Valberg said she is very pleased, and honored, to be part of the Athena Collection by InFocus Canada along with a prominent Nikon Ambassador group which includes Ami Vitale, Deanne Fitzmaurice, Viktoria Haack, Kritis Odom, Clare Hodgetts and Melissa Groo.
“Scarves act as platforms to share and spark conversations about major issues,” says Hodgetts, “combining glamor and fashion with contemporary issues. Scarves are becoming more than just beautiful fashion pieces for the individuals who wear them, they also have an interesting story behind them. . “
“The scarf, made entirely from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, sparked a conversation about a major issue, combining glamor and fashion with contemporary issues, beautiful fashion pieces with a story, raising money for charity,” said grateful Hodgetts.
Hodgetts says all photographers have a strong story to share. She says scarf is the way to do that.
“Ami Vitale is a National Geographic photographer and US Ambassador of Nikon. A focused aspect of her work is raising awareness about the last two Northern White Rhinos to live in the world and attempts were made to save the species from extinction. Strong thing. “
“We have a beautiful Ami scarf in the Athens Collection, and a donation of the scarf goes to BioRescue, a charity working to save this Rhino.”
“Melissa Groo is another great photographer who is part of our Athena Collection.”
Hodgetts explains, “He (Groo) is a Fellow of the International League Conservation Photographers Association and uses his photos as a powerful tool for storytelling and conservation.”
Groo described his work as follows: “To raise awareness, and change minds, not only about the extrinsic beauty of animals but also their intrinsic value.”
Donations from Groo’s ‘Sunbird’ scarf went to Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center – a wildlife hospital that cares for native and wild animals.
“There’s a story behind each scarf that makes it even more special,” says Valberg.
Hodgetts thanks you for a layer of beauty from this initiative.
“This project means a lot to me for a number of reasons. I’m glad we were able to produce beautiful pieces that make people feel comfortable wearing them. When ‘you look good, you feel good, and it’s important for me to contribute to empowering and uplifting people – people wearing them, “said Hodgetts.
So when you wear a scarf for your next Zoom meeting or family FaceTime, you can tell the story of photographers, charities and the sustainability aspects of your accessories.
“Sustainable production is another important part of our story. We have a dedicated production partner, an Ethical Profile. Their CEO and President, Kemp Edwards, founded InFocus Canada with me.”
“Partnering with an Ethical Profile ensures our products are made in a third party facility that is audited for their commitment to environmental practices and corporate social responsibility.”
The scarf costs $ 77. A portion of each scarf will go to a charity or conservation organization of choice of each photographer. They can be purchased online at https://www.infocuscanada.ca/, in Ottawa at Shepherd Mode, as well as little choice inside All Environmentally Friendly.
Valberg is a wildlife photographer typically located anywhere in the world focusing on wildlife. He’s now out with his Nikon pointing at nature close to home during COVID-19.
“I encourage everyone to explore nature, while staying close to home, going out, embracing and loving our winter. Safe and healthy everyone. See you on the other side of the pandemic,” he said.