While we are all coming together to fight global warming, it seems as though almost every aspect of our lives plays some role in the way in which mankind has contributed to our warming planet. Whether it is driving the car to work, disposing of waste, or the number of flights we make each year, it all feeds into the problem we are facing. Similarly, fashion is no different.
From manufacturing to how we dispose of our clothing the fashion industry is a serious polluter. From cheaper garments through keeping them for less time to throwing them away when they are no longer in fashion or useful, it all adds up.
Therefore, we hope you enjoy our selection of TED talks on sustainable fashion. Each takes a view on the role that sustainable fashion, fashion that consumes fewer resources and ultimately causes less harm, can play in helping our environment.
Most of us follow fashion in one way or another. Whether we keep up with the trends of the fashion industry or we do our own thing, the vast majority of the clothes we wear have a detrimental impact on our environment2.
The first problem we face is our throw-away society. As trends change, we often simply throw away clothing. Much of which will end up in landfills.
The other concern is what our clothes are made of. Many of us, unknowingly, will be wearing clothing that contains plastic. Even your wool jumper with 25% nylon contains synthetics derived from plastic. Staggeringly 65 million tonnes of plastic were used to manufacture our clothes in 2016. Plastic waste is a huge problem and clothing plays a part in this.
As environmental concerns grow, we must encourage thought as to what happens to our clothing once we discard it. We have to actively think about recycling it or make sure we dispose of it correctly. Or even better make it last. One way to easily contribute to fashion not becoming environmental waste is to give someone else's items a new lease of life and a new home. Buying vintage or second-hand from thrift shops helps to create a more circular fashion industry. At least those thrift items get re-used.
As we get this right, then we are on our way to helping reduce fashions' environmental footprint.
The second problem we face is the manufacturing process. As we throw away clothing and purchase more, supply has to keep up with demand. Therefore, the manufacturing process becomes quicker, we produce more and that causes us to use more resources and create more pollution3. Fast fashion may provide us with cheap t-shirts and on-trend garments a week after they’ve been on tele1, but it doesn’t work for the environment. This is why we need to think about ethical fashion.
So, these ted talks are aimed at highlighting sustainable fashion. They are thought-provoking and help us to identify the problems we face.
Both a designer and a sustainability educator, Clara Vuletich has worked with big fashion brands to implement better sustainable practices. As part of this talk, she explains the lifecycle of our clothing. She also touches on the issues within the fashion industry while providing tips on how to be more eco-conscious when it comes to fashion.
She inspires and informs. Her impressive understanding is effective at conveying her message clearly. It enables viewers to learn about how our clothes are made and what they contain. She also discusses important values that the fashion industry needs to think about too.
A British writer and someone who feels passionate about environmental issues, Lucy Siegle has one goal - to make environmental issues surrounding the fashion industry clear and accessible.
This TED talk will introduce you to her work. She set out to help us understand the impact that our wardrobe has on the environment. She supports her argument by introducing key numbers and statistics drawn from scientific research.
Lucy ably shares her belief that we can all become a part of ethical fashion, and also maintain a fashionable look. And how this can be achieved by gaining an understanding of what we wear and where our clothes are made.
In “The Wardrobe to Die For” she helps us to understand how our shopping, what we purchase, and the fashion decisions we make impact our environment. She follows this up with her ideas about how the fashion industry can make a change for the better.
Buy Lucy's book on Amazon: To Die for: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? Lucy Siegle
The Copenhagen Fashion Summit is the largest event that focuses on sustainability and fashion. The driving force behind this is the Danish Fashion Institute of which Eva Kruse is the CEO and President.
In her TED Talk, she focuses on the way in which the fashion industry has the ability to tackle social, environmental, and ethical issues worldwide. Further, she also indicates how consumers can play a role. As such, she states that consumers should not wait for sustainable options to come to them. Instead, they should take a proactive approach in order to alter the fashion industry and the way in which it approaches sustainability.
Dr. Christina Dean’s work looks to enhance environmental sustainability within the fashion industry. As the founder and CEO of Redress, which is a not-for-profit organization, she aims to promote and encourage a new way of thinking about fashion
In this talk, she relays her deep understanding of the impact of fast fashion on our environment. Through her travels, she has seen first-hand the impact that it has. As a result, she encourages consumers to consider what they buy, to look after their clothes, and recycle where possible.
By educating her audience with facts and examples she provides people with the information they need to make more ethical fashion decisions.
Orsola de Castro is the founder of Fashion Revolution as well as the creative director. She is someone who believes in up-cycling and during her talk, she expresses the need to raise awareness of green fashion.
As a result, she discusses how we can use waste to create clothing. In doing so, she believes that this can provoke a circular approach to fashion manufacture. What’s more, she also believes that it will change attitudes when it comes to sustainability and fashion working together.
This talk differs slightly from the others as it is not based on sustainable fashion. However, it does discuss how our clothes are made and what they consist of.
Lauren Singer is the founder of the Package Free Store in New York, a zero-waste store. She is also a zero-waste blogger. As part of this talk, she discusses her journey to becoming a zero-waste supporter. She also provides her insight and experience in doing so, helping inspire others to become a part of the zero-waste movement.
This talk is simply aimed at provoking consumers to consider that they no longer have to purchase new outfits. Jessi Arringtonaims promotes our ability to reuse and recycle. She believes that none of us has to wear anything new. Therefore, we can repurpose what we already own and purchase used items from second-hand stores.
The reality is that most of us are guilty of purchasing new clothing when we don’t need to. We change our looks, we seek out new trends and try to stay in vogue. However, we don’t always need to and we certainly don’t have to conform to the ideas and thoughts of brands and designers or the latest trends. In fact, arguably, one of the latest trends looks set to be keeping our clothes for longer and demonstrating our care for the environment.
Clothing has a real impact on our environment. However, the impact has taken a back seat because of other causes of greenhouse gases such as cars or industry.
The truth is, we are all a part of this because we all need clothing. While some of us might not drive cars and contribute to the problem in that way, we can all play a part in improving the status quo with our clothing choices. As such, incremental changes to our purchasing decisions will further help create a more sustainable fashion industry for the future of the planet.
|McNeill, L. and Moore, R. (2015), Sustainable fashion consumption and the fast fashion conundrum: fashionable consumers and attitudes to sustainability in clothing choice. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 39: 212-222. doi:10.1111/ijcs.12169|
|Birtwistle, G. and Moore, C. (2007), "Fashion clothing – where does it all end up?", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 210-216. https://doi.org/10.1108/09590550710735068|
|Sustainable Fashion Supply Chain Management, Tsan-Ming ChoiT. C. Edwin Cheng, 2015, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-12703-3|