On March 10th, 2017 The Sustainable Angle founder Nina Marenzi was invited to be a part of The CSR and Ethical Business Society, London School of Economics, roundtable on “Fashion the Future: Towards Sustainability in the Fashion Industry” as part of their project week on sustainability.
The clothing industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, after the oil industry. Textile waste is increasingly a serious environmental threat. In recent years, the acceleration in speed of the fashion supply chain and changing consumer attitudes towards fashion as a disposable commodity has contributed to the large levels of textile waste generated worldwide. In the UK, an estimated 0.8 to 1 million tonnes of all textiles are sent to landfill each year, and used clothing accounts for approximately 350,000 tonnes of landfilled textiles, an estimated £140 million worth.
The CSR and Ethical Business Society at the LSE aims to raise awareness and draw interest of LSE students on the environmental issues posed by fashion industry, the fast-fashion paradigm and the role of consumers; and current initiatives addressing these issues across the clothes lifecycle.
Panellists made up of David Logan, Nina Marenzi, Christina Dean, Caroline Haycock and Jade Galston, each presented on the issues, solutions and future plans from their point of view within their field of expertise:
The roundtable featured the following panellists:
Christina Dean is a sustainable fashion advocate who founded Redress and the EcoChic Design Award. She has recently co-authored the consumer guide entitled ‘Dress [with] Sense’. Redress’s Frontline Fashion’, the documentary about how designers are changing the future of fashion has just been released and is available on itunes.
Christina Dean proclaimed that educating designers on sustainability is an act of environmental activism. Redress is helping teachers to learn about ideas on how to cut waste out of fashion, and generally about zero waste design and up-cycling.
Caroline Haycock has been working in Ethical responsibility and Quality assurance for more than 10 years she is now the Director of Ethical trade and corporate responsibility at Debenhams, Caroline has also worked on campaigns such as ‘Made by Great Britons' campaign in an effort to help bolster domestic textile production and revitalise the UK clothing industry.
During the talk Caroline referred to the work Debenhams is already undertaking with TRAID, a charity working to stop textiles and footwear from being thrown away to landfill reducing waste and carbon emissions, while raising funds to fight poverty. As well as the informative website on CSR and sustainability they have which you can see here: http://sustainability.debenhamsplc.com. Debenhams’ environmental responsiblitlies focus on carbon, energy and waste, reducing their impact through improved awareness of environmental problems, efficiency and sustainable investment.
Jade Galston founder of Fertha which gives a curated range of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories that has been hand picked from one of their charity partners, creating a sustainable and convenient shopping experience, and extra revenues for the charities they work with.
The roundtable was a great success with good questions from the audience demonstrating how many young people and students are interested in sustainability in the fashion industry, are questioning the status quo and are ready to take action. You can find out more about the work of The CSR and Ethical Business Society at LSE HERE.
The Eco Chic Design award has just been launched again and the deadline for application is 3rd April more information is available on their site HERE.
Amanda Johnston of The Sustainable angle talks Supply chain, over consumption and researching sustainable textiles with Harpers Bazaar Argentina:
It was a great pleasure to be interviewed by Harpers Bazaar Argentina for their November issue, during my recent visit to Argentina to participate in INTERDISENO 2016, the University Network knowledge exchange program.
After a hectic day at INTI headquarters, meeting staff teams and delivering a lecture to an audience of SME's, I met with Harpers magazine's journalist and photographer in Buenos Aires' cool Palermo district to share a drink, and to talk about sustainable fashion and textiles, and consumer culture.
We discussed the main challenges facing fashion and textiles, and that our industry is ranked the second most polluting in the world. The prevailing economic system that the fast fashion system in the West is perpetrating is counter intuitive; it is the nature of this model that it needs all the time to produce more clothes, and open new stores at an ever increasing pace interested. The consumer is led to believe that clothing should be cheap in relation to other goods, so today it is very difficult to understand true value and the ecological and human cost involved in its production," The workers who are manufacture our clothes on the other side of the world often do not earn enough to live "
I explained the work of The Sustainable Angle, and our focus on spotlighting opportunities for change right the way along the supply chain, and showcasing and research into sustainable textiles from around the world. "The textile industry is an opportunity for significant change by itself, but the communication of the message has to be positive regarding the whole product cycle: We can not discharge responsibility for over consumption and fast disposal only on the consumer; all players must play a part in operating responsibly. "
At The Sustainable Angle we spend much of our time researching how fashion’s environmental impact can be lowered through textile innovation, and novel ideas to transform the fashion system and design practice. Certifications and standards play a hugely important part in the monitoring and transparency of these innovations and textile practices. Today we are talking to Christopher Stopes the UK Representative for The Global Organic Textile Standard GOTS. You will find hundreds of GOTS certified fabrics in the Future Fabrics Expo 25-26th January in London, as well as a preview of a selection of these fabrics in our Future Fabrics Virtual expo available 24hrs online here.
TSA: Can you provide an outline of GOTS’ aims?
GOTS: The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) aims to be the comprehensive ecological and social standard for the entire textile supply chain based on the use of certified organic fibres. It is the gold standard for sustainable organic textiles.
Organically produced fibre is required in GOTS. This means that on the organic farm no GMOs, no artificial fertilisers and no agro-chemicals are used. Instead certified organic farmers use crop rotation and alternative methods of crop production.
GOTS covers textile processing, manufacture, labelling and sale of clothes and other products through to the final consumer. Permitted chemicals allowed in textile processing meet stringent criteria for environmental and human health (exceeding Greenpeace Detox requirements).
There are clear ecological and social benefits from the strict criteria in the standard. Customers can check the certification ID on a GOTS certified product in the GOTS Public Database.
TSA: Can you tell us more about what you think the future looks like for the organic cotton market, in a world where fertile soil is becoming ever more limited and eventually required for increased food production?
GOTS: It’s really important that we look after our soils and that means fostering natural cycles. Organic farming produces cotton and other fibres in a way that helps protect the environment and enhance biodiversity. The demand for organic cotton is growing steadily as more and more people realise the social and environmental problems with GM and pesticide based cotton. Organic cotton farming depends on crop rotation including food crops, so small farmers benefit from better food security – something that can be really important for them.
TSA: With most cotton usually being grown in monocultures, can smaller organic cotton farms ever grow enough cotton to replace what is currently grown in intensive agriculture?
GOTS: The other way of thinking about that question is whether we can afford to go on as we are! We are consuming cotton too freely, for fast fashion – where we throw away our clothes without a second thought. There is a huge challenge ahead about rethinking our consumption – of food, and fashion, and many other things. Thinking that we can rely on conventional intensive monocultures is old thinking. We can produce enough if we produce with the principals of health, care, ecology and fairness – we just have to look after what we produce!
TSA: Can you describe your favourite encounter with an organic cotton farmer or other hands-on-experience while working for GOTS?
GOTS: One of the most inspiring things about organic cotton farming is the stories from small farmers for whom organic production has meant that they can free themselves from the dependency on dangerous pesticides and grow organic cotton and food crops in rotation so helping to feed their families. I love the three great stories from farmers in China, India and Benin in the Soil Association Report Organic Cotton Helps to Feed the World. They really show how organic cotton can make a difference.
written by Charlotte Turner
We are really pleased to announce the release of Fabric for Fashion: The Complete Guide: Natural and man-made fibres. The book was written by The Sustainable Angle’s curator Amanda Johnston and Clive Hallett, who wrote the first edition together. If you haven’t already seen it, the accompanying volume Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book is very much worth a look too, containing over 100 swatches of widely used fabrics.
The book is an essential and easily navigable reference on a seemingly unending range of fabrics, providing in-depth details of their properties, technologies, terminologies and processes. Amanda and Clive have ensured the book “examines not only the visual and tactile characteristics of various fabrics, but also encourages a deeper understanding of their potential impacts by considering the provenance of fibres, and their processing routes.” This is something that we are always aiming to do at the Future Fabrics Expo as well, as by physically experiencing a fabric whilst being provided with the relevant in-depth information about provenance and processing, we are able to more accurately judge a fabric’s sustainability credentials, whilst evaluating relevance for the desired end application.
The Sustainable Angle’s involvement did not stop there. Charlotte Turner from The Sustainable Angle was invited to contribute to the book, researching and creating an easy to use certifications reference guide to help designers understand the scope and remit of the industry’s increasingly used certification systems.
Whilst certifications are not the only way to determine the social and environmental credentials of a fabric, they can often help understand the benchmarks to which diverse materials have been produced and processed. As certifications can relate to anything from use of chemicals and fertilizers during fibre cultivation, to fair working conditions, treatment of waste-water effluent, or design for reutilization, it can be a confusing area to navigate. Take at look at the guide to find out more about some of the most commonly used social and environmental certifications (p.240-243). At The Sustainable Angle, in addition to evaluating fabrics using globally recognized certifications, we also assess fabrics against a set of environmental criteria developed with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, which can be seen here.
Amanda says the book was conceived “with the intention of providing designers with a complete guide to natural and man-made fibres. The integration of crucial practical fabric knowledge, tactile appraisal, and examples of varied creative fabric interpretations is intended as an accessible guide for students and design practitioners alike.”
Added to this, “the fibre and fabric journeys of both the natural and man-made fibre types are explored by mapping the historic, social and geographic significance of the fabrics that make up the very substance of our contemporary fashion products.” All in all, the ingredients for an invaluable textiles resource.
For those wanting something creative, the book includes hundreds of beautiful fashion and textile images, several photographed by the talented Myka Baum, whose photography of the Future Fabrics Expo you can see here and here.
You can find out more and order the book on the Laurence King website.
About the author: As well as curating for The Sustainable Angle, Amanda has spent several years working with the London College of Fashion as an associate lecturer, and as a freelance design consultant. Clive and Amanda have worked together as consultants within the fashion industry since 1982 having collaborated on numerous projects both in the UK and abroad.
We are delighted to announce that The Sustainable Angle has been selected as winner of the UAL Sustainability Award 2013. The award recognises the achievements of The Sustainable Angle as an organisation, and of the core team who have been bringing these projects to fruition over the past 3 years - Nina Marenzi, (Director), Charlotte Turner (Project Manager), and Amanda Johnston (Curator).
The sustainability award is the result of both internal and external recognition by the Award Panel, comprised of:
The panel particularly liked the way The Sustainable Angle's projects create the conditions for extensive learning, operating with a holistic view of sustainability and education and that successfully engage with parallel networks to foster connections and collaboration. There was also key focus on the fact that The Sustainable Angle's projects, (most notable the Future Fabrics Expo), have made a significant impact across a range of stakeholders including social enterprises, business and both UAL and non-UAL students.
The Sustainability Award recognises excellent practise:
We are extremely pleased to have received this recognition, and look forward to bringing together the 3rd Future Fabrics Expo in London, 22nd - 24th September.
written by Charlotte Turner
We're pleased to say we have contributed another in-depth article to the Ethical Fashion Forum Source online platform to help offer some of our latest research and advice on making your supply chain more sustainable, which we'll also share at the next Future Fabrics Expo at the end of 2013. You can read our previous article on The Future of Fashion Fabrics here.
In this latest research we wanted to highlight how the supply chain is an interlinked series of decisions - starting right from the very raw materials our fabrics are made from and their cultivation and processing, to the finished garments we are wearing which have been assembled by labourers around the world. Understanding exactly what the supply chain really entails is key to being able to make it more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.
There have been some great steps made by international not for profit organisations, businesses, initiatives, and researchers, which can contribute to us measuring our impact and improving our supply chain process, and we have shared some of our favourites with you.
Additionally, from luxury materials made with extra long staple organic supima cotton, and performance fabrics incorporating post consumer coffee waste, soy plants or recycled fishing nets, processed with oxygen bleaching or airflow dyeing, to locally sourced wool which travels only 40 miles from sheep to finished fabrics, there are a huge range of options to reduce our environmental impact in our choice of materials, more of which you can read about in the full article.
written by Charlotte Turner
You can take a look at The Sustainable Angle's new article on the Ethical Fashion Forum Source Magazine about reducing the environmental impact of the fashion industry through innovation in textiles.
Environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry are growing, but there are many ways that you can not only reduce negative environmental impact, but also increase positive environmental and social benefits through informed choices of materials and intelligent design. Thinking critically about materials is just one option, which is not an isolated solution, but part of a considered and linked chain of positive choices along the supply chain.
According to the Oerlikon Textile Report; The Fibre Year 2009/10:
Therefore there is a massive need for fibre diversification to avoid natural resource depletion and support thriving eco-systems, in light of the overwhelming global use of such a small range of fibres despite growing availability of innovative fibres and fabrics.
In 2010 the global textile industry ‘experienced the most potent growth in 25 years’ (Oerlikon Textile Report), with an increase of 8.6% – with such a rapid growth of textiles on offer, it is imperative to make informed and responsible choices.