EcoEquitable's Impact and Goals
For the last 20 years, we have worked towards sewing a better story through our dual purpose of textile waste reduction and women's empowerment.
Our 2023 Impact
So far this year, EcoEquitable has saved thousands of pounds of fabric and we have supported women in gaining jobs and building their skills. In addition to tracking our environmental impact, we have begun to keep track of our social impact, taking note of how many of our former graduates are currently employed, how many are working in the sewing industry, and sew much more! We are incredibly excited to share all of this with you!
Why is Our Impact Important to Ottawa?
Wastefulness is one of the most relevant descriptors of our current fashion world, especially in Canada. In fact, "the average Canadian throws out 81 lbs of textile waste per year". In terms of weight, that is the equivalent of throwing out 4 sewing machines every year...per person! To combat these numbers, EcoEquitable diverts an average of 10,000 pounds of fabric from the landfills every year.
Another aspect of our impact as a social enterprise is job equity, and especially gender equity within the job force.
In May 2023, Canada lost 17, 000 jobs, and there were 40, 000 fewer self-employed workers across the country. At EcoEquitable, we create job opportunities and provide sewing/soft skills training for women who want to start their own business, or move into a new chapter of their life! We advocate for living wages by partnering with organizations who believe in our mission and share our values.
What are Eco's Six-Month Stats?
Textile Waste Reduction
Between January and June 2023, EcoEquitable saved nearly 3000 pounds (lbs) of fabric from the landfill, and our collection of donated fabric continues to grow!
This fabric is collected solely through donations to our storefront at 404 McArthur Avenue, in Ottawa. We then resell this fabric in our Eco Fabric Boutique and our Open House events, which are typically held every month!
Through these two main redistribution channels, we have been able to find our sustainable fabric new homes (5,000 to be exact!)
We offer everything from cotton, suiting, and wool to premium quilting squares, silk, and upholstery!
We accept in-kind donations of:
- Fabric that is at least 1 metre long
- Quilting fabric squares
- Sewing notions such as fabric scissors, thread, bobbins
- Sewing machines
- Books about sewing, knitting, and other needlework crafts
You can find more on how to donate here.
We participated in our first Repair Café as an organization!
A Repair Café is a community event at which local menders and fixers come together to provide free services to the public. This Repair Café was devoted solely to clothes mending, and we sold some secondhand fabric from our Eco Fabric Boutique! With this event and various repair contracts that have been taken on by our students in the past 6-months, we have made 20 repairs so far!
You can read more about what this day looked like in our blog post, and if you are interested in collaborating on an event like this, please reach out to us at email@example.com!
Women's Empowerment: Job Skills Training and Ottawa Job Creation
100% of our graduates are currently employed, from a survey capturing 85% response rate from graduates between 2020-2023.
Of these graduates, 40% are employed in the sewing industry, while 60% are employed in a related field or another industry.
"The most valuable tool we leave with are the resources and contacts we've made here at Eco." - Lorayne, Level 3 (Advanced) graduate.
"EcoEquitable rekindles the art and love of sewing in a supportive, respectful and non-judgemental environment where everyone can feel like they belong." - Selina, Level 2 (Intermediate) graduate.
"I always encourage myself to not give up, as there will never be a perfect time to learn what you have a passion for." - Sara, Level 1 (Beginner) graduate
While our Sewing for Jobs program does centre around sewing, alterations, and production skills, another huge component is empowering students with transferable skills which they can use in the sewing industry and their next chapter!
Some of these soft skills include:
- Time Management Skills
- Record Keeping and Documentation Habits
- Basic Bookkeeping Skills
- How To Use Various Online Resources
- Building a Network and a Diverse Community
- Math skills including: How to make a correct measurement, how to alter the measurements on a pattern, and how to create quotes and prices for one's goods and services.
In April, we launched a referral program for our Level 3 (Advanced) students.
In this program, students and graduates are connected with community members looking for alterations or industrial sewing services. Since the beginning of this referral program in April:
- We have successfully referred 12 paid projects to our students.
- Of these projects, 2 were large enough to allow for a collaboration of several students who worked together to complete each client order.
We have added two new positions to our staff team!
- Program Assistant
- Marketing Coordinator
As EcoEquitable continues to grow, we are so glad to be able to provide new job opportunities in our community. These new hires have been invaluable to us since they joined the team in May and will play key roles as we increase our capacity!
EcoEquitable partners with three local organizations!
We joined NU Grocery's Repair Café in early June, and we recently collaborated with Andrew Fleck Children's Services, who ordered 126 bedsheets through our Sewing For Jobs referral program. We invite you to reach out if your organization is interested in collaborating!
Hintonburg Fabric Flea Market
Looking Ahead: Goals for 2023
In the next six months, we are striving to divert another 7000 lbs of fabric from landfill to reach our goal of 10 000 lbs saved per year. If you have fabric that you would like to donate to us (and that fits our requirements above), please come by the office at 404 McArthur Avenue, or contact us for more information.
To broaden our social impact and environmental awareness work, we are also excited to be putting together a Community Resources Page for our website! We want to hear from you about resources in Ottawa for newcomers, women, inclusive and safe spaces, job or entrepreneurial training, textile redistribution, and SEW much more! If you know of any Ottawa-based resources like these, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also excited for upcoming events that we are in the process of organizing!! We will be sending updates via our newsletter Eco's Edit, as well as over social media. If you have an idea for an event which involves our values of environmental and social impact for Ottawa, email us at email@example.com so that we can chat!
Stay tuned for our 2023 Annual Impact Report!
At EcoEquitable, we are dedicated to tracking and remaining transparent about our impact on our community and the environment. We thank all those who make what we do possible, and support our work. Subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates on programs, impact, and events!