Lucy Siegle is a British journalist and respected champion of eco-friendly issues. In 2005 she launched the Observer Ethical Awards and has also been working to raise awareness of the fast fashion industry. Lucy has worked to incite change through initiatives like “The Green Carpet Challenge” and by urging consumers to be more aware of their fashion footprint.
In this Ted Talk, Lucy delivers some shocking home truths about the rate at which we are consuming clothing, backed up by numbers which are hard to ignore- “fashion by numbers” as she calls it. She says, “The weird thing is that we still end up with 2 million tonnes of textiles, mainly apparel, in landfill every year. So, we’re slinging them away almost as quickly as we can buy them. Which points to a certain disposability, a certain throwaway culture, in fashion.”
Lucy believes though that we can all be more sustainable when it comes to our fashion choices though and she insists that it doesn’t have to be by wearing “tie-dye” or hats you knitted yourself. To prove this, she launched The Green Carpet Challenge which saw high end fashion designers producing sustainable red carpet look for A-list celebrities. You can check out some of the participants and the celebs here.
Eva Kruse is CEO and President of the Danish Fashion Institute and co-founder of Copenhagen Fashion Week which has a core focus on sustainability.
In her TED Talk, Eva Kruse says she wants to use fashion as a communication tool – she wants it to be “fashionable to think”. Eva talks of the devastating environmental impact of the fast fashion industry, but she also offers ideas and solutions. She says she wants it to be as easy to recycle textiles as it is to recycle our plastic, so that we can stop plundering Earth’s resources. However, the main point of her TED Talk is to urge us to think more about our personal choices and practices. To quote Eva: “If we all do a little, it’s actually a lot. And if you ask me, I think we’re damn well obliged too.” We couldn’t agree more!
Dr. Christina Dean is the Founder and CEO of Redress, an NGO with a mission to promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry.
Christina is an ex-dentist who moved to Hong Kong and began a career in journalism. Her time in Hong Kong and China exposed her to the environmental issues of the fast fashion industry and she decided to take it upon herself to make a change.
A particularly life-changing moment she talks about was when she witnessed massive amounts of clothing being dumped straight into landfill. The shocking scene motivated her to wear only dumped clothing for a whole year. Although not able to retrieve clothing directly from landfill, Christina was able sift through clothing waste at depos, finding enough to enable her to wear a different outfit every day for a year. She documented her experience on social media and says that it gave her a new sense of self, knowing that what she was wearing on the outside reflected how she felt on the inside: “If we are what we wear, then we can reduce the amount of pollution coming out of the fashion industry.”
Gabriella Smith is the founder of The UpCycle Project which raises awareness of fashion waste. The organisation works to inspire, educate and help companies to reduce and repurpose their waste through creativity and innovation.
During her TED Talk, Gabriella tells us how she did an inventory of her own wardrobe (something we should all do) and was horrified to see just how many items of clothing she owned. The key issue for her, which she realised was widespread, was that she did not value her clothing. Cheap fashion causes us to under appreciate what we buy, making it easy to either throw out or replace our clothing with new items.
So, for a year, Gabriella decided not to buy a single piece of clothing, undergoing a “fashion fast” as she puts it. During the experience she admits she had a weak moment where she went to a store and filled up her basket with clothing but she says she put them back, “leaving empty handed but fully empowered”. The process is what allowed her to break up with fast fashion once and for all and inspired her to start championing change. Follow The UpCycle Project on Instagram to see what Gabriella has been working on.
Trisha Striker grew up in India and throughout her childhood she was faced with the stark contrast between the lives of the rich versus those living in poverty. As she grew older, Trisha moved to Australia where she studied at The James Cook University, which continued to broaden her mind and awareness of real-world issues, including the fast fashion industry.
Trisha’s focus in this TED Talk is on the vulnerable people behind our clothing and how they face exploitation and abuse due to ignorance. She points out that whilst most of us would never wish to support child, forced or sweatshop labour, we inadvertently do when we buy cheap fashion. Her talk encourages us all to think more deeply about our own values and the examples we set when we buy fashion. She says, “Managing the supply change is not as difficult as getting individuals and organisations to change their values and beliefs”. Let’s change that by starting with ourselves.
Let us know if you watched these TED Talks and what you think of them. We’d love to hear your recommendations for inspiring speakers on sustainability.