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Local boutique pushes an eco-friendly approach to fashion

Photo by Marta Keirkus

A university-affiliated sewing program wants to keep the environment hanging by more than just a thread.

The EcoEquitable fashion boutique is affiliated with the University of Ottawa’s Enactus program, which brings students together to promote sustainability initiatives as well as producing business-related experience for every participant involved.

The boutique, created this past March, began as a charity in 2002— a sewing co-op for immigrants arriving to Canada. It was established to help women learn sewing skills (though everyone is welcome) as they enter the Canadian workforce. It also helps new Canadians sew together socially, creating a community sharing their experiences in a safe and comfortable environment.

The on-site boutique sells merchandise such as recycled fabrics, bags, scarves, clothes, and purses. The purpose is to teach people how to be more environmentally-conscientious and to make recycling more fashionable.

Anyone’s welcome to volunteer. EcoEquitable coordinator Lola Ahmed started off as a student and gradually worked her way up. “It’s a win-win situation to gain experience,” she says.

Ahmed says her prized possession from the boutique is a Totem bag made out of recycled promotional banners, truck tarpaulins, seat belts, and the inner tube of a bicycle tire.

EcoEquitable encourages the public to be more aware of the environment and help to improve our carbon footprint. The organization reinforces the idea that the environment does not belong to one sole individual but the whole community.

Enactus fills out the business side of EcoEquitable boutique, providing marketing and social media, which helps out the company and gives members hands-on business experience.

Enactus member Daryo Cummins says EcoEquitable not only helps the environment, but society as a whole.

“It’s a cool initiative that empowers students to empower marginalized immigrant women in order for them to find their footing,” says Cummins. “It’s neat to see because we as students are pretty fortunate, and are even more fortunate when we get to share with others.”

Students will benefit from the entrepreneurial experience and also help bolster the Canadian economy, he says. As more and more businesses go green, it’s become more of an expectation to be eco-friendly, especially with student-run startups.

“Eco-friendly businesses are definitely the way to go,” says Cummins. “It’s 2014 and we are starting to realize that we can’t keep hurting Earth, because it’s ultimately hurting us more in the end.”