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The video above was recently released by the Huffington Post about the work I do. It is part of an excellent series they are doing called RECLAIM: REDUCING THE WORLD OF WASTE . In this series, they cover positive stories across the globe ranging from smog vacuums in China; to Rob Greenfield’s story of wearing his trash for a month; to a story called, “You Make Reckless Decisions When You Shop After Work.”
The Huffington Post piece focused on my use of fashion as a means to engage people in conversations about what is happening to our planet. As I prepare to dive into the world of fashion at Eco Fashion Week in Seattle this week, this is a perfect focus.
At EFW, I’ll be participating in two ways but I’m going to talk about the second event first. On Friday November 4th I will be part of a panel, during Session 2, in a day-long event called the “Collective Conversation” which explores how to make our clothing more sustainable. I will discuss this in further detail later this month in a blog post covering what I learn this week. For now I want to share with you one staggering piece of information I discovered recently:
FASHION IS THE SECOND MOST POLLUTING INDUSTRY AFTER OIL & GAS!
At first this seemed unlikely to me, especially considering industries such as nuclear energy and weapons. But as I thought about it more I realized that each of the 7 billion people on this planet wear cloths and many have copious amounts of them! The price of fashion is huge when we consider the varied activities that take place around clothing, for example:
- the pesticides used to grow cotton;
- the petroleum products used to make nylon and polyester;
- the staggering amounts of water that are both used and polluted in the garment industry (it takes over 700 gallons of water to make ONE T-SHIRT!);
- the overwhelming energy requirements to power the massive facilities where our clothes are dyed, bleached, woven, cut, and sewn;
- the energy used on washing and drying clothes;
- all of the packaging used to protect the materials and finished garments as they move from one place to another before they end up in our closets;
- the fuel used and pollution created to transport clothes across the world and back again;
- the waste created while we wear clothes and later dispose of them (the average American throws away 81 lbs of textiles a year!)
- And then of course there are the often unfair and unsafe working conditions for the millions of people in the garment industry.
When you consider the many and far reaching arms of the fashion industry, you can begin to understand why it holds this regrettable distinction!
The first event I will present in is a segment called RUNWAY REIMAGINED on Wednesday November 3rd where I will be unveiling a visual exploration of the price of fashion on the runway. (If you live in Seattle, please come! Details can be found here: ) For the show, I have created three garments that raise questions about the labels in our clothing and the stories they tell us about the environmental and social costs of what we wear. I consider this work to be performance art, using the fashion stage as my “canvas”. It’s new territory for me and I’m very excited!
Below are photos of the materials I am working with for this collection. After the garments are unveiled at Eco Fashion Week, I will send out photos and video of the full garments and collection. Stay tuned!