Leaside High sets up its own swap shop

Photo of Arzo Aslami, Trinity Asimakas, Ayeza Dawood. Photo by Serena Sanchez.
Arzo Aslami, Trinity Asimakas, Ayeza Dawood. Photo by Serena Sanchez.

Leaside High made the swap in March.

The Leaside High School Fashion and Eco Clubs held their inaugural “One 4 One” Thrift Event a few months ago, and in doing so were participating in the latest trend: a fashion swap combining an interest in fashion with a concern for protecting the environment.

Arzo Aslami and Daniella Arenas Henao, two Grade 11 friends, are passionate about both fashion and the environment. At an Eco Club meeting last fall, they heard one of the staff advisors, Cecily Osborne, a computer studies, science and special education teacher, discuss the growing popularity of the organized fashion swap “as a way to help reduce waste and promote sustainable fashion.”

This discussion piqued their interest as they learned how the clothing in landfills is damaging the environment. “Canadian landfills are expected to be full in about 12 years and the textiles in clothing take years to decompose, releasing chemicals harmful to the environment such as carbon dioxide and methane, which contribute to climate change,” said Daniella.

When the girls started the Fashion Club in February with communications technology teacher Lisa Rubenzahl as their advisor, they started to plan their own fashion swap. Ms. Rubenzahl said the pair are “a force to be reckoned with” who brought great ideas and energy to the “One 4 One” Thrift event. 

With the help of the 40 members of the Fashion Club, Arzo and Daniella publicized the event through announcements and social media posts and organized the tables of clothing for the two weeks before March Break. The event was held in the foyer at lunch time, but the first day was a bit slow as the students, according to Arzo, “didn’t really grasp the concept” of bringing in an item of clothing and exchanging it for one of their choice from the selection available.

But, with more advertising, Arzo said the next days were “hectic,” with both teachers and students appearing even before the team had finished setting up the separate tables for clothing, shoes and accessories. Their “reservation policy” was popular, too, as it enabled thrifters to reserve an item for one day. Arzo said they had a “good number of trades each day and were pleased with the outcome.” Any leftover items were donated to Goodwill.

The members of the Eco Club also played an important role in the event. According to their advisor, history and geography teacher Robert Cooper, they provided educational materials on sweatshops and human rights as well as the harmful effects of “fast fashion” on the environment. They also set up a sustainable wrapping display where they demonstrated the use of newspapers, magazines and shoe boxes to create attractive parcels.

The Fashion Club is now planning new events for the rest of this year and next year such as vision board displays, a fashion show, discussion of “Met Gala” outfits and a fashion spirit week. They plan to repeat the “One 4 One” event next year as well.

Mimoza Stermasi, science teacher and Eco Club advisor, summarized the importance of the event: “In a time when the fast fashion industry is deemed as one of many adding to climate change, this event was a reminder that responsible high school students are taking action to fight big corporations and stand up for the future of the planet. They dedicated their time and efforts to make this event a great success.”

Read Glenn Asano’s feature on swapping in our May issue: She Swaps Shop brings joy – and clothes – to Leaside.

About Janis Fertuck 108 Articles
Janis Fertuck is a retired English teacher who spent the last 30 years of her career at Leaside High School. She enjoys writing about the vibrant Leaside community where she and her husband have lived for 22 years. Her other favourite pursuits include a part-time job at a boutique on Bayview and volunteering with the Bayview Pixies.