- Sustainable Lifestyles and Education
'Keeping Fashion close to home for better and lighter living' is the third webinar from the broader series: ‘Sustainable Living 1.5: Empowering People to live better and lighter’.
The registration link can be found here.
DATE: 12 August 2020
TIME: 11.00-12.30 Pacific Daylight Time
Our wardrobes and textiles protect us from the elements and enable expressions of culture and individuality. Responsibility for closing the fashion loop lies not only with consumers, who are affected by price, trends, advertising and available options, but also with communities and companies who design, produce and market products and set the policy infrastructure. The fashion industry sector and textiles stand out because people identify so intimately with purchasing decisions about what they wear. We’re seeing sustainable fashion trending in the media as consumer concern rises over the negative impacts of this industry on the environment. Better sourcing and production efforts, consumer messaging (uniqueness and quality over quantity), reuse and vintage models, and more product information are all emerging solutions.
This webinar will showcase local and regional fiber and textile systems that drive environmentally and socially healthy production chains and businesses, support local job creation, and rebuild markets for regionally produced fashion and fiber-based products.
11.00-11.05 - Welcome and introduction to the Webinar Series – Garrette Clark, UNEP
11.05-11.10 - Introduction to session: Kirstin Miller, Executive Director, Ecocity Builders
11.10-11.20 - Sustainable textile context: where do community solutions fit in? by Katia Vladimirova, PhD: Founder and coordinator Sustainable Fashion Consumption network
11.20-11.35 - How the Anishinaabe are using hemp to restore foodways, rematriate seeds, and make a new economy based on local food, energy and fiber by Winona LaDuke: Honor the Earth, Winona’s Hemp, and the Anishinaabe Agricultural Institute
11.35-11.50 - Northern California Fibershed— working with plant and animal dyes and fibers produced in this region by Rebecca Burgess: Executive Director, Fibershed
11.50-12.05 - ‘Reshoring' strategies for textiles - towards a shift in collective thinking from “offshoring is cheaper” to “local reduces the total cost of ownership” by Harry Moser: Founder, Reshoring Initiative
12.05-12.30 - Moderated discussion and Conclusions
Key messages from webinar
During this webinar from the broader series Sustainable Living 1.5: Empowering people to live better and lighter, four expert panelist took a closer look at textiles and fiber systems, highlighting the context around sustainable fashion and introducing emerging initiatives in the United States that advance local sustainable approaches.
1. Context around sustainable fashion and textiles
Katia Vladimirova (Sustainable Fashion Consumption network) explored the context for sustainable fashion, reminding us that due to the rise of fast fashion, textile and fashion are among the most CO2 intensive lifestyle domains in Europe and elsewhere! Since 80% of carbon footprint of clothes occurs at the production phase, actions and community solutions to improve and change the global fashion industry become paramount. Implementing local natural dyeing practices while phasing out substances of concern (e.g. polyester), effectively using resources and moving to renewable inputs in textile production are all important steps to improve sustainability. Moreover, we need to radically improve and scale up recycling practices through, for instance, zero- waste designs or new fiber recycling techniques that are emerging. Lastly, shortening the supply chain and focusing on local production and consumption as well as increasing the utilization of clothes that already exist are crucial actions that have the potential to optimize the textile economy. Fortunately, the main trends in consumption signal a growing interest in sustainable fashion among consumers and there are many collaborative fashion actions you can take to extend the life span of clothes: use and buy second hand clothes, make use of rental and swapping services, or fix and upcycle clothes in repair cafes!
2. Using hemp to restore foodways, rematriate seeds, and make a new economy based on local food, energy and fiber
Next, Winona LaDuke (Honor the Earth) introduced how Winona’s Hemp farm and the Anishinaabe Agricultural Institute are changing the textile industry. The organization produces and grows a natural fiber called hemp, a crop that requires less fertilizers than other crops and that doesn’t need irrigation and chemicals. Moreover, hemp absorbs nearly twice its dry weight in CO2 during growth, providing a lower carbon footprint to all materials it is used to create, including clothes! All in all, the goal of Winona’s Hemp is to transform the hemp economy, that is to rebuild the hemp industry in North America and to make sure that native peoples are at the table!
3. Regional and regenerative fiber systems in Northern California
Another great example of how community solutions can contribute to fiber and textile suitability is Rebecca Burgess’ organization Fibershed which develops, supports and promote local natural fiber systems. Their work builds relationships between farmers and makers as well as public education about the environmental, economic and social benefits of de-centralizing the textile supply chain. Today, we have access to synthetic fibers which are based on fossil carbon and thus it is no surprise that the vast majority of the cheap blends going into garments include fossil carbon based plastics that end up being part of the textiles that are sold by fast fashion brands across the world. For this reason, Fibershed is supporting soil-to-soil textile processes that allow communities to take full responsibility for a garment’s lifecycle and to produce sustainable clothing that is climate beneficial!
4. Reshoring' strategies for textiles
The final speaker Harry Moser (Reshoring Initiative) shared his insights on reshoring strategies for textiles and showed that bringing manufacturing back home from overseas is feasible and can reduce environmental impacts. Clothing manufacturers usually offshore their production because it’s cheaper. Actually, about 25% of what is now imported could be made domestically with equal or greater profitability if all costs and risks were considered using the TCO Estimator. In addition, producing domestically and supplying your own market has the potential benefit of creating well-paying manufacturing jobs at home and enhancing the environment by shortening supply chains. Thus, the Reshoring Initiative’s aim is to assist manufacturers and suppliers in making sourcing decisions by providing valuable tools and allowing companies, for instance, to calculate their profit and loss impact of reshoring vs. offshoring!
To find out more check out the following links:
- Anatomy of Action: An evidence-based social media tool kit that translates science into what people can do in their daily lives.
- Sustainable Lifestyles: Options and Opportunities: This publication provides a sample of opportunities that can be tailored and applied at the city level to introduce and promote more sustainable lifestyles
- Fostering and Communicating Sustainable Lifestyles: Principles and Emerging Practices: This UN Environment report sets out a four-step strategy roadmap for fostering and communicating sustainable lifestyles, illustrated by 16 initiatives and campaigns from around the world.
- Reshoring Initiative: