From EcoFashionista to .. . Bike Repair Queen?

Last week, I wrote all about my rather abysmal relationship with DIY-ing (and how I’m determined to change that!). This week, let me take you all with me on a little trip around a few of U of T’s fantastic DIY initiatives right on campus-just in case you want to get your hands a little dirty this year :D.

Do you have any old clothes that you may not ever wear again, but don’t really want to give away either? Or maybe you have some lying around that you’ve been meaning to take to that second-hand shop in your neighbourhood?

Instead of throwing them out, why not turn them into something that you can use?

Feiya Wang had just this idea in mind when she founded EcoFashion earlier this year. EcoFashion’s objective is to create understanding and awareness about the importance of sustainability, and also allow students to get creative and design their own fashionable items.

Considering that we live in a society which does not place too much emphasis on re-using old materials (and seeing as how it took me awhile to give away my last batch of old clothes), Feiya’s initiative sounds great to me!

Feiya kindly answered some of my questions about EcoFashion over the phone. Among the projects EcoFashion hosted earlier this year was a ‘make your own shopping bag’ workshop using old clothes or textiles. Participants were asked to bring in their own used clothes or textiles they wanted to work with, and then designed their own handy reusable cloth bags for those trips to the grocery store.

A Lunchbag made from an old dress!

Feiya would like to host more events, including a speaker series, and more group DIY workshops. Things are just getting started, but there is much more to come! Stay tuned for more EcoFashion initiatives at U of T this coming Fall.

So we’ve got sustainable fashion resources down, but what about when we want to take our marvelous-looking selves out on the town?


Enter Bikechain, U of T’s famous DIY spot for current and future bike-lovers. Bikechain is located in the basement of Cumberland House (the building that houses the Centre for International Experience). The Shop offers bike repair workshops, bike-borrowing (You can borrow bikes for week long periods - for FREE :)), and a safe space for absolute beginners (such as myself) to learn all about caring for a bike.

When I sat down with Dominic Wong, Bikechain’s Administrative Coordinator, it struck me how so many of values that underlir the bike shop are transferable to other parts of life. A key ethos of Bikechain is to provide an educational and safe space for others to engage in a process of learning by doing. Bikechain’s philosophy to let each person learn on their own time underlies the ethos of DIY initiatives in general: the process matters just as much, if not more so, than the outcome.

This process can yield a lot: new friendships, a sense of community, shared knowledge, not to mention a re-conceptualization of one’s own talents and abilities to adapt. Dominic mentioned how he sees people becoming empowered by the act of taking ownership over something that they didn’t think they could do before.

All of this through tuning up your ride or changing that flat tire!

DIY Mobile Apps and Start-ups??

And finally, one last DIY initiative that could have you shaping the future of U of T- and Beyond. Have you ever wanted to create a Mobile App, but have no clue how to begin? Look no further than U of T’s own MAD Lab, which provides services to students to assist in the creation of mobile apps.You can even develop apps that apply to your experience at U of T. Especially timely since U of T launched its own Apple and Android mobile apps just this week!

What's more, MAD Lab is poised to open a physical lab space in Gerstein Library. The space is currently undergoing renovations. When it's up and running, it will house technical resources, projects, workshops and early start-ups. The best part? The lab space and everything in it is open to all departments at U of T. You don't have to be a Math or Science major at all -Humanities, this space is for you too!

Now to think of what app I could create…


Please note that Bikechain will be moving to the North Borden Building on June 3rd. They will be closed for the duration of the move. Volunteers are more than welcome to help with the move. Bonus: you get 40% off of your next Bikechain purchase, along with refreshments available each moving day. Check out the website for more information.

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