In October 2021, we invited secondary school students from schools working on the Global Citizenship Themes to help us to make a change in the world of fashion!
‘Fast fashion’ is the term used to describe the mass production of cheap, poor-quality clothing. These cheaply made, trendy pieces have resulted in overwhelming amounts of consumption and waste. All the elements of fast fashion: trend replication, rapid production, low quality and competitive pricing add up to having a detrimental impact on the planet and the people involved in garment production. Many of today’s top fast fashion brands use toxic chemicals, dangerous dyes, and synthetic fabrics that seep into our water supplies. Each year 100,000 tonnes of clothing are estimated to be thrown out in Ireland (Community Reuse Network Ireland). These garments—full of plastics fibres, lead, pesticides, and countless other chemicals—rarely break down. Instead, they sit in landfills, releasing toxins into the air. Fast fashion’s carbon footprint is enormous, giving industries like air travel and oil a run for their money.
The Let’s Fix Fashion project focuses on encouraging students to think deeper about the clothes they wear.
We encourage students to think before they buy clothes and ask questions like:
- How long will I wear this? Is this item ‘on trend’? There have been countless fashion fads over the years like leg warmers, low rise jeans, micro mini bags and jumpsuits for men. Avoid fleeting trends and the longer you can see yourself wearing something the better the investment it is.
- Is it comfortable? If you don’t feel good in the item, you are unlikely to keep wearing it.
- Do I need it or is the price/sale factoring into my decision? It’s easy to get excited about a special offer so make sure it’s an item you actually want and will use. You could give yourself some time to think about it as this often helps. Ask yourself if you would feel the same way if the product was regular price.
- What is it made from and how do I care for it? Make sure the material has the properties you want (eg. soft, breathable, water-resistant, etc.) and is a fabric you like wearing. Check the care instructions and only buy things you are prepared and able to care for properly.
- Is it good quality? Examine the item. Is it well made? Is it going to be in good condition after washing it?
- Can I afford it? Make sure the item fits into your budget and that your money isn’t better spent on a different piece(s).
- Are the brand considering sustainability when making these items? Is the brand trying to reduce their environmental impact? Look for sustainable materials, eco-friendly production, or any other areas where the brand is conscious of the sustainability of their products. Check out https://directory.goodonyou.eco/ to compare the eco-rating on numerous brands.
- Were the people who made this paid fairly for their work and did they have good working conditions? Support companies who manufacture in an ethical way – pay their workers a living wage and treat them with respect. Check out brand’s social responsibility policies and look for fair trade brands.
Who can apply?
The Green-Schools Let’s Fix Fashion Project is open to students in schools that are actively working on the Green-Schools Global Citizenship themes. The project is currently full this school year but lots of useful information and tips on sustainable fashion will be promoted on this page for those schools that didn’t get a spot.
Is the programme only for people interested in fashion?
No, this programme is open to anyone who is interested in finding out about the negative impacts of the fashion industry on our planet, and what we can do to slow down fashion: create less waste, use more sustainable materials, improve working conditions etc. We welcome those who are passionate about creating change!
What is involved in the programme?
The programme involves four virtual events and associated tasks set on four themes:
- Fast Fashion documentary screening
- Upcycling event where students are briefed and trained in a selection of skills that will help them upcycle one item of clothing into multiple items
- Circular Economy
- Clothes sharing
- Catwalk event
Schools that actively participate in the project throughout the year will be entered into a draw to take part in a live end of year catwalk event where students will be given vouchers to purchase and put together outfits from second hand clothing stores. Participating schools will be awarded a certificate of completion.
End of Year Catwalk Event: 3 May, 2023
Five schools were invited to showcase their ideas at a catwalk event in Cashel in May. The end result was amazing!
Circular Economy Webinar: February 10th
A circular economy aims to maintain the value of products, materials and resources for as long as possible by returning them into the product cycle at the end of their use, while minimising the generation of waste. It designs out waste restoring and regenerating nature extending the lifespan of textiles. The circular economy tackles climate change and biodiversity loss together while addressing social needs. According to the latest circularity gap report, our world is only 8.6% circular. It is said that 80% of a products environmental impact can be determined at the design stage. This event explores upstream optimisation. By designing with circular economy principles we can create clothing that lasts longer, be more easily repaired, reused and finally recycled. We can create fabrics which improve soil quality rather than pollute and create an equitable work environment.
We can close the loop and ensure clothes are kept at their highest value during use and re enter the economy after use never ending up in landfill through
- Re-use, repair and repurpose an item you no longer wear.
- Transition from take, wear, dispose (Linear) to care, share repair (Circular)
- Identify what it’s made from and how to prolong its life
- Choosing fabrics can be easily recycled, buttons zippers that can be easily removed, fabric easily stretched etc
- Slow the resource loops buying second hand, charity shops, swap events, online communities.
- Shifting our mindsets away from ownership. Explore rental and leasing options, growing designer services in Ireland from renttherunway.com to the borrower boutique.
- Establishing Clothing libraries in Ireland.
As part of the Let’s Fix Fashion Project, Green-Schools have organised an online Circular Economy webinar with Carrie Ann Moran from Circular Fashion Ireland on Thursday 10th February at 1pm. Faye Rochford, sustainable fashion designer will only join us to share her experiences of launching her own sustainable fashion brand with clothing from natural certified organic fabrics, dead stock and repurposed textiles, and citrus by-products. Students from the participating 22 schools were given a problem statement ‘How can we transition to a Circular Economy in the fashion industry’ using Design Thinking methodology and will also pitch their design ideas and sketches at the webinar. We can’t wait to see your ideas!
Let’s Fix Fashion at Christmas
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… but also potentially the most wasteful. Think of all those plastic decorations, the excessive wrapping paper, not to mention the food waste. This year we are encouraging everyone to keep sustainability in mind, and why not start with the beloved Christmas jumper. No need to shop online and waste your money on synthetic fibres, we have the solution right here. Choose an old jumper from your wardrobe, or pick up one second hand from your local charity shop and check out our how-to videos below.