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A new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) is calling for major change in the fashion industry, as synthetic fibres from washed clothes are linked to ocean microplastics.According to IMechE, 35 per cent of microplastics released into our oceans come from synthetic textiles, with a typical 5kg wash load of polyester fabrics producing six million microfibres.

Now a small but growing group of innovators is turning to the genius of nature in an attempt to put wastefulness and pollution in the apparel industry out of fashion, right at the source: They are using live organisms to grow pieces of biodegradable textiles, creating environmentally friendly materials in the laboratory—and are even producing some near-complete items without the need for factory assembly.

Just less than half the food produced in the U.S. and Canada is thrown away. It starts on farms where, because of quotas or over-production, dairy and produce is tossed away. Grocery wholesalers destroy perfectly good fruits and vegetables that don’t pass the eye test because of bruising. Restaurants that can’t grasp the concept of just-in-time delivery cut into their thin margins by throwing out the over-ordered supplies. And, thanks to a lack of meal planning, the average Canadian household is estimated to garbage-can as much as 40 per cent of the shopping cart.  

From power tools, to camping equipment to children toys — for the past five years, the Toronto Tool Library and the Sharing Depot have loaned out over 65,000 items. Torontonians can borrow any of these items the same way one can borrow a book from the library.

However, the sharing network that has helped city residents build, borrow and fix is now in need of a helping hand itself.

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