“Celebrating Earth Week” – Panel discussion exploring ‘The True Cost’ of the Fashion industry on the environment
On April 19th The Sustainable Angle was invited to take part in a panel discussion at the American School in London. TSA’s Research Fellow, Martin Brambley, participated at The ASL Sustainability Council discussion during Earth Week. The panel talked on the broad impact of the fashion industry on our environment.
During Earth Week students, faculty and staff looked attentively at conservationist approaches to becoming more ecological. Previously the school had staged a ‘meatless Monday!’
The panel was set up to precede the viewing of, ‘A True Cost’ a documentary which explores the unvarnished truth behind the production of fast fashion.
Jessica Sweidan, a founding member of Synchronicity Earth, introduced the panel consisting of Laura Miller, Executive Director at Synchronicity Earth, Heather Knight from Fashion Revolution and Martin Brambley from The Sustainable Angle.
The discussion revolved around issues that are of most concern in the fashion industry, which Heather saw as mainly the huge environmental impact of throwing away clothing, on average a single person may produce 70kg of textile waste per year.
Martin spoke about the lack of knowledge in the fashion industry about such issues of textile waste, pollution stemming from the textile industry and pointed to the many innovations that can now be found as alternatives for example on show at The Future Fabrics Expo and its version online. The Future Fabrics Virtual Expo is a more advanced online research and sourcing platform showcasing a selection of the nearly 3000 materials and 100 mills and suppliers shown at the Future Fabrics Expo, with increased search capability, and opportunity for direct contact with mills. Martin also pointed out the importance of care and maintenance. Author Kate Fletcher also talks about how one of the biggest issues is the water used to continually wash garments instead of perhaps choosing fabrics that need less washing like Wool which is a fibre that is water resistant, air permeable, and slightly antibacterial, so it resists the build-up of odour.
Heather touched on an issue close to her company’s heart. Spreading awareness, to the consumer about who makes clothes. Fashion Revolution asked makers and manufacturers to hold a sign saying ‘I made your clothes’ and posting it online. Fashion revolution started as a reaction to the Rana Plaza building collapse.
Heather enlivened the debate by acknowledging the audience as consumers with power. Heather invited the audience to use a powerful tool, asking the brand who made my clothes. A template is even available on their website to encourage consumers to ask these important questions.
Martin emphasised that If more brands decided to diversify their fibre basket and include sustainable fabrics such as organic cottons, low impact leathers and closed loop cellulosic etc they would be able to reduce their environmental impact. They could also promote their use of more sustainable fabrics and support a supply chain that supports its workers, farmers and the environment.
After the panel Martin brought along fabrics from the Future Fabrics Expo which got Students, very interested and motivated to create more responsible fashion.