“If clothes are gently worn there’s no shame in that, thrifting is a trend now.”

Yasmin Gomes, Eco Closet project manager

On Nov. 22, students from Humber College and the University Guelph-Humber gathered in the North Campus E-Concourse for the sustainable thrifting event of the season. The Humber Eco Closet event had clothing racks filled with everything from jeans to blazers!

Eco closet team

The Eco Closet team posing for a picture.
The Eco Closet team posing at the Eco Closet event. (Cassie Walker/Cassiewalkerphotos)

Hosted by Humber’s Fashion Arts and Business program for the Event Management class, second-year students learned to work as a team in various roles to put on this event. The program first started the Eco Closet in 2018, but due to Covid-19 lockdowns, this was it’s first time back since 2019.

A variety of sustainable clothes from the Eco Closet event.
Students shopping at the Eco Closet. (Alexandra Ellison/IGNITE)

Weeks before the event, donation boxes were scattered across Humber and Guelph-Humber campuses for students and staff to donate clothes. During this time, Humber fashion students had different team sectors setting up social media posts, venue spaces and sponsors to get the event ready.

Yasmin Gomes is a second-year fashion business student who led the event as the project manager. During her role, Gomes says she spent a lot of time ensuring proper communication among all the teams.

Students Bruna Treme (left) and Yasmin Gomes (middle) with Youth Without Shelter community engagement and education specialist, Mike Burnett (right).
Students Bruna Treme (left) and Yasmin Gomes (middle) with Youth Without Shelter community engagement and education specialist Mike Burnett (right). (Cassie Walker/Cassiewalkerphotos)

As students, she said the team understood that many don’t have a large budget for buying clothes.

“We all have job interviews and internship opportunities, so reducing prices gives students equal opportunities to get nice clothes,” said Gomes.

They made the prices range from $5 to $12 to ensure affordability. In addition, the event supported the local charity, Youth Without Shelter, by donating all its revenues to the charity. Finally, by promoting thrifting, the team could teach better spending habits and promote sustainability.

Poster of Sustainable Eco Closet Price list.

Women's casual $5
Women's formal $10
Men's casual $5
Men's formal $10
Shoes $10
Balzers and jackets $12 
Accessories $5
Prices at the Eco Closet. (Cassie Walker/Cassiewalkerphotos)

This project was essential to Gomes, and she understands the environmental impacts of the fast fashion industry.

“Sustainable fashion is the future. Without it, there are 10.5 million tonnes of clothes and textiles that end up in landfills yearly, just by North Americans. So it’s scary to think about, for example, the company Zara has a thing called “Z Day ” where they drop new clothes every two weeks. Where does that go after the trend? The landfills,” said Gomes.

Sustainable fashion students setting up for sustainability event.
Students setting up the Eco Closet tables. (Cassie Walker/Cassiewalkerphotos)

Avery Romanelli is another fashion student that worked as the graphic design team lead. She says that students should implement sustainability in all areas of life.

“It’s important to be as sustainable as possible in all our lives. Fashion is one of the biggest industries in the world, so it’s imperative to try our best to be sustainable because of the impact on the environment,” said Romanelli.

Office of Sustainability and other projects

One of the event sponsors was Humber’s Office of Sustainability. The Office of Sustainability works with Guelph-Humber and Humber to provide education and lead sustainable initiatives on campus.

During the Eco Closet event, the Office of Sustainability had a mending booth to teach students and staff how to patch up tears in garments. In addition, the booth had take-home sewing materials as well as instructors to help teach basic sewing tips.

The Office of Sustainability for sustainable fashion mending booth at the Eco Closet event.
The Office of Sustainability mending booth at the event. (Alexandra Ellison/IGNITE)

Gabby Penske is the communications & engagement coordinator for the Office of Sustainability; part of her job is organizing events for students and staff to raise awareness on sustainability topics. Penske says one of their initiatives this year was implementing fair trade Indigenous-owned coffee on campus.

“This year, we were delighted to introduce a new fair trade coffee to campus and catering. Although it’s called Birch Bark, it is not only fair trade but also Indigenous-owned. Part of the profits of the coffee sale go towards purchasing water purification units for Indigenous households in Canada,” said Penske.

One example of their climate initiatives is the Humber North campus NX building Retrofitting Project.

“We renovated the building as a whole, making it more energy efficient in terms of energy usage and heating” said Penske.

“A key thing is to seek out information and have an open mind and enough humility to learn more. This is important as we address climate change and collaborate with others,” said Penske.

Penske says that the first step for students to implement sustainability is to become educated.

The Office of Sustainability also has a Climate Action Plan, which aims for the campus to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Net-zero means cutting greenhouse emissions to close to zero, with the remaining emissions to be re-absorbed by the environment.

We can’t wait to see more sustainability initiatives on campus in the future!

Here are IGNITE tips to start making sustainable changes today.

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