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From rags to environmental riches
Unseen behind the catwalk lights is a voracious consumer of natural resources . Researchers are hoping to give fashion a makeover that shrinks its appetite .
T extile dyeing is the secondlargest water polluter in the world 1 and one pair of jeans takes 2,000 gallons ( 9,000 litres ) of water to produce . It is statistics like these from the United Nations Environment Programme ( UNEP ) that has researchers urging an industry that spends a lot of time looking into mirrors
Global clothing production has doubled since 2000
85 % of textiles end up in the waste system each year
The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second
Washing clothes releases 500,000 tonnes of microfibres into the ocean – equal to 50 billion plastic bottles – each year
SOURCE : MCKINSEY & COMPANY
to take a closer look at itself .
“ The fashion industry needs to change ,” says Dr Elaine Igoe , Senior Lecturer in Fashion and Textile Design at the University of Portsmouth . “ It can ’ t continue operating the way it does .” In fact , the fashion industry is calculated to generate 10 per cent of all carbon emissions globally , and 20
The fashion industry needs to change . It can ’ t continue operating the way it does .
– Elaine Igoe
PHOTO : SHUTTERSTOCK per cent of wastewater . To put this environmental impact into context , these statistics in pre-COVID-19 terms mean fashion was responsible for more annual greenhouse emissions than all flights and shipping combined .
LABEL OF CHANGE Entering the field to confront this challenge is a new fashion research project , PO1 .
Named from the Portsmouth postcode district , PO1 plans to encompass a place-based social enterprise that feeds into the University ’ s Fashion and Textile Design courses . Its aim is to encourage local organisations , students and the community to consider how waste materials can be reused or repurposed – given extended life and value .
“ We ’ re working with local organisations , looking at their waste issues and thinking about how we could use some of that waste and create Portsmouth-designed , Portsmouth-made clothing from this material ,” Dr Igoe says .
The concept of PO1 arose after the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity ( RNRMC ) approached the University asking for ways to reduce waste by creating products made from waste material , which could be sold to raise money .
A former student of Dr Igoe ’ s , Katherine-Jayne Watts , played a key role . In 2019 , Ms Watts won Graduate Fashion Week ’ s Sports and Leisurewear Award for a collection made from repurposed materials connected to the sea , including lifejackets and sails . After graduating , she returned to work with Dr Igoe on the charity ’ s challenge . Ms Watts was intrigued by the design potential of the used life rafts that were going to waste . She was able to deconstruct one raft to create a range of five different trend-led bags , which will be manufactured professionally and sold to support the Portsmouthbased charity . Dr Igoe says projects such as PO1 help nurture thoughtful , ecologically minded designers of the future . She and her colleagues ask every one of their students to consider where
ISSUE 02 / 2021