As we watch models come down the runway in New York City this week and in other major capitals in the coming week, we don’t often think of public service. Yet there are nonprofits, activists, corporations, and others actively working on issues of sustainability and workers’ rights that are increasingly pressing.
So, in honor of the fall fashion weeks, Driving Change decided to celebrate those individuals who are pushing to make our fashion more sustainable and more humane.
Esha Chhabra writes about how Rachel Burgess and Fibershed are working with cotton farmers in California to help them grow their cotton in a more regenerative manner. Cotton is known for being one of the most water-intensive crops, making each pair of jeans or T-shirt a significant drain on the environment. Tackling the challenge of how our cotton is grown is one way to reduce fashion’s carbon footprint.
Or course, sustainability is not the only way fashion can drain resources. As a labor-intensive business that often mass produces its products in low-wage factories, fashion can take its toll on some of the poorest around the world. Sarita Santoshini explores the work of the Asia Floor Work Alliance (AFWA) as it strives to hold big fashion brands accountable for the conditions in factories across Asia.
There are others within the fashion industry who are striving for sustainability. Andrew Cave highlights two of them. By signing The Fashion Pact, which Valerie Keller’s Imagine created, brands agree to source an increasing amount of their materials from low-impact sources, support zero deforestation, and to use recycled materials in their plastic packaging. While Diana Verde Nieto’s Positive Luxury bestows its Butterfly Mark on brands to confirm their sustainability trustworthiness.
Jessica Schreiber has had rapid success addressing the critical issue of how fabrics are recycled or disposed of. Carolyn Whelan writes about how her organization, Fabscrap is a redistributor and recycler of fabric that designers would otherwise throw out. Absorbing her supply are up-and-coming designers, fashion students, and individuals interested in sewing. Fabscrap has been so successful that it is expanding to other U.S. cities.
So as you follow fashion this fall, think about these incredible individuals and how you might help fashion improve its carbon footprint and treat its workers more fairly.