From fashion to fungus, this co-op student strives for an eco-friendly world

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

By Naz Kittani

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes Michelle Sin so remarkable. The Michelle Sin.third-year Environment and Business co-op student already has quite the résumé.

Before she even started at the University of Waterloo, she was making headlines with her fashion line made entirely from waste and recycled materials (a single dress requires up to 30-hours of work for one-time use). Her work in the field of “trashion” caught the attention of CD Sonter Ltd., an award-winning environmental consulting firm in Toronto. They  asked Sin to create a dress for their firm and were so thrilled with the results that they hired her for her first co-op work term.

Sin’s second co-op work term took her in a different direction. Seeking a more business-focused experience, she landed a job in China as a communications associate for HandsOn Shanghai, an organization that promotes volunteerism and action in community development.

With two co-op work terms under her belt, Sin was inspired to combine her eco-friendly creative spirit and newfound business knowledge. In 2015, she launched Moguhaus Inc., a startup that researches and designs sustainable biomaterials made from agricultural waste and mycelium (a type of fungus). In July 2016, she brought her start-up idea to Velocity where she received the Velocity $5,000 startup award.

Today Sin and her team at Moguhaus are focusing on the creation of MycoCup, a compostable cup that resembles Styrofoam but is made entirely from waste and mycellium. She says that it will prevent 75 million trees from being sent to landfill in the form of paper cups that are so popular in commercial coffee chains.

Although her passion for the environment has always been a priority for Sin, she credits co-op for much of her success in this field. “Without co-op I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I wouldn’t know so much more about myself and what I want to do.”