Duke Graduate Student Wins Sustainable Fashion Challenge
In April 24th, 2018, the world commemorated the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, an incident that awakened consumers to the perils and injustices of an industry they regularly participate in - the apparel industry. After oil, apparel is the world's second more polluting industry, responsible for over 12 million tons of clothing ending up in landfills every year.
In an effort to shed light on the global fashion industry's social, economic, and environmental negative consequences, Net Impact launched Wear it Wise, a program dedicated to increasing awareness of the detrimental impacts of the apparel industry, specifically fast fashion, and educating consumers on the habits they can form to become conscious consumers. We partnered with industry leaders in the sustainable fashion movement, including The Levi Strauss Foundation, Eileen Fisher, and Remake.
In May, Net Impact concluded our inaugural year of the Wear it Wise program with incredible results. Program participants consisted of 18 Net Impact Chapter Leaders from Professional, Graduate, and Undergraduate Chapters. The cohort educated over 8,000 people on their campuses and in their communities on everything from textile waste to resource scarcity and circular supply chain management through a variety of events and activities such as panel discussions, mending and repairing workshops, campus-wide clothing shops, and even resource-filled websites (see www.sustainablefashion101.com). We also saw cross-sector partnerships between campaigns and city government, start-up companies, established companies, and student organizations.
While all of the inaugural year's Wear it Wise campaigns are worth highlighting, we are excited to announce the winner of this year's challenge. Alex Marchyshyn from Duke University is a first-year dual Master's candidate in Environmental Management and Business. Her campaign approached the issue from both the industry and consumer side, including spotlighting sustainable brands in North Carolina, providing consumers with an easy to digest resources about sustainable consumer practices, and educating a broader audience through social media campaigns.
Alex also hosted two live events that engaged her student body and larger community about the impacts of fast fashion and aimed at repositioning sustainable fashion as accessible, affordable, and stylish.
Her first event featured five panelists for an engaging discussion entitled "Beyond Fast Fashion." Panelists included Beth Stewart from Redress Raleigh, Kat Williford from Pamut Apparel, Bill Johnston from Recover Brands, Dr. Deb Gallagher from Duke University, Jordan Brewster from VF Corporation, and Dr. Jesse Daystar from Cotton Inc. Her second event was a campus-wide clothing swap where over 150 items were exchanged, giving used clothing another life and preventing it from ending up in a landfill.
Alex will attend Remake's "Meet the Makers" tour in Mexico in October 2018 where she will travel with a small group of future sustainable apparel leaders and get to know the people and places where our clothing is made. Please join us in congratulating the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment Chapter and Alex Marchyshyn!