Clothing and Waste

As you might already know, we are shopping our way to extinction. Fast fashion is a cheap and cheerful form of instant gratification that has rewired our brains to wanting everything, right now. However, our desire to constantly update our wardrobe is just part of the problem. It’s not only the production of textile that contributes to sustainability issues, but problems also occur when we want to get rid of old clothes and textiles.

Synthetic fibers are one of the biggest problems. Materials like polyester, which currently is present in about 60% of clothing, it is very resource-intensive to produce and leads to almost three times more carbon dioxide emissions than organic cotton. From a waste perspective, it takes a very long time to break down and when washed it releases microplastics that end up in oceans and water streams. Scientists are not yet sure of the impacts of microplastics on the environment, animals, and humans, but speaking from a complete layman’s perspective: I can’t imagine that inhaling tiny plastic particles is great for anyone.

This is a waste pyramid. It describes the preferred ways of getting rid of a piece of clothing and is a great tool to keep in mind when you’re ready to part ways with your unwanted clothes.

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Reduce – Reducing waste is something designers, manufacturers and consumers must consider. On the design level, is it possible to use materials and construct garments that are durable and can easily be mended? For consumers, consider the longevity of the things you buy – do you really need to get an outfit for just that one night out? The best way to reduce waste is to avoid buying new things and cherish what you already own.  Another solution is to rent an outfit for that special occasion through sites such as Girl Meets Dress, My Wardrobe HQ, and  Higher Studio.  What it comes down to is to buy less and better. This is something that the vast majority of clothing companies would advise against, as they want to sell you as much as possible. But there are exceptions. Designer Christopher Raeburn closed his online shop on Black Friday, just to take a stance against excessive consumption and the denim brand Nudie Jeans Co offers a free, lifetime repair service for all their jeans.

Repair – Sometimes, clothes and textiles are thrown away due to small rips, missing buttons, and broken seams. This waste can easily be avoided by mending your clothes and give them new life. There are plenty of instructional videos on YouTube and on the Love Your Clothes website. If needles and thread really isn’t your thing, then your local tailor is your new best friend. They can help you with mending and alterations, and as an extra bonus, you will support a local business. There are also repair cafes and mending events popping up across the country, where you can get help to fix your broken things.

Re-use – Before you throw something away, consider if it can be used for something else? Can it be turned into something completely different? Upcycling is a way to turn old, unwanted clothes into unique new things. Here are some ideas!

Rehome – Pass on your items for someone else to enjoy them. Organise clothes swap with friends and family, donate to a local charity shop, sell on Depop, or keep your eyes out for swap events and pop up thrift shops. Worth knowing is that charity shop on average is only selling 20% of the garments they receive. A large part of it is exported to less economically developed countries, where it is being sold at very low prices and risks and risks putting local clothing manufacturers out of business. This has gone so far that some African countries have banned the import of used clothing from Europe.

Recycle – If your item is beyond repair, every single piece of fabric can be recycled. Check if your local council recycles textiles or find a drop-off point here.

Recover – As a last resort before sending something to landfill, textiles can be recovered and turned into raw material.

Rot – Sending waste to landfill should always be the last option!

That’s a few tips on how to take extra care of the things you already own and avoid contributing to the ever-increasing amounts of landfill. Do you have any other tips on how to take care of your clothes and reduce your waste? Please share them with us!

NTU Students! Want to find out more about how the clothes you wear impacts the planet? Complete the Clothing theme of the Sustainability in Practice Certificate on NOW.

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-This blog post was written by Lina Erkandssonn, an Education for Sustainable Development Coordinator in the Green Academy Team at NTU. 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

Sustainable Development Goal 7: Sustainability in Science & Technology, what can you do?

Within the Estates department, we have been thinking about the new Embracing Sustainability strand of the University strategy

We’ve been looking at different areas within the University to see where we might be able to reduce our environmental impacts and operate more sustainably without impacting on the work of the University.

It’s no surprise that within Science & Technology energy use is quite high – when you’re working with cutting edge technology, machinery and equipment a certain degree of energy usage is inevitable! The challenge for us, working alongside S&T, is to find areas where we might be able to tackle this and reduce our carbon emissions and environmental impact.

We spoke to Adam Coburn, Sustainability Champion within S&T, to see what pointers he could give us. These conversations have been great and we now have some avenues we will pursue in partnership with S&T to tackle energy use.

That’s not all though! We wanted to find simple ways where staff and students working within S&T can also get involved in sustainability. We asked around within S&T and gathered 5 excellent top tips for S&T staff to try out!

Top Tips:

  1. Check out your glass dryers – these can use a lot of energy. Some newer models are insulated and have built-in timers but if your model isn’t, why not consider buying a cheap and easy to use ‘timer plug’ like this:

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This way you’ll never forget to turn it off overnight.

  1. Consider aluminium beads for your water baths. They are more energy-efficient, easier to decontaminate and won’t turn into a nasty bacterial soup! Also, tubes will stand up without support, making your life much easier:

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  1. Invest in water-free condensers. They are just as efficient as water condensers but won’t waste gallons of water and there’s no fear of floods. Your bench or fume cupboard will also be much clearer for you to work.

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  1. Water chillers like the one pictured below re-use the same 8 litres of water/ethylene glycol mix for years. Again, no fear of floods and they can be set to lower temperatures than tap water will reach, meaning your rotary evaporation will be quicker and more efficient.

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By making these tips part of your regular habits and routines you can have a really positive impact without creating extra work for yourself.

Thanks go to Adam and everyone in S&T for their ongoing help with Sustainability, we look forward to working together more in the future!

Don’t forget there are plenty of ways for you to get involved with sustainability at NTU – why not sign up to our Green Rewards platform via the mobile app or website? This allows you to report your green actions, earn points, compete against colleagues/departments and win prizes!

Want to know more or have any questions? Give the Sustainable Development Team a shout on sust.dev@ntu.ac.uk and follow us on social media on Twitter – @NTUEnvironment, Facebook and Instagram!

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-Thank you to Dewi Howell who is a Sustainable Development Project Coordiantor at NTU, for writing this blog post!

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

Solastalgia? Ideas for coping with the climate crisis

If you have ever felt that the natural world is changing for the worse, then you have experienced solastalgia. The term basically means the distress from a changing environment close to your home, that your sense of place has been disrupted. I don’t know about you, but I see myself as a global citizen, on spaceship earth, and the earth is changing – it’s becoming more inhospitable. Looking at any news on the climate or ecological breakdown is extremely frightening, what is even scarier is that there are no signs of greenhouse gas emissions slowing down or even reversing. This year I have felt heart-wrenching emotions like never before, at the start of the year Australia experienced such an extreme heatwave it caused flying foxes to fall out of the sky from heat exhaustion, 23,000 of them died.

If you watched the Our Planet series on Netflix, then the scene of the walruses falling to their death off the top of a cliff because of the lack of sea ice just torn me up. The image below from behind the scenes of Our Planet brings out a lot of emotion in me, the impact we have on the natural world leaves us a lot to answer for.

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There are so many different things that can trigger solastalgia. It could be local flooding, a dried-up pond you played in as a kid, a new housing estate, it could just well be that you’re sick of the ridiculously hot weather. Whatever it is that makes you feel unable to cope with our changing planet, there is always something you can do about it.  

Personally, I have felt the full breadth of emotions when dealing with climate change. I was aware of the problem back in 2013 when I decided to complete a postgrad but as you can imagine completing a master’s in Environmental Sustainability and Green Technologies really opened my eyes to the scale of the problem. I’ve explored numerous scientific reports, articles, and books along with also reading Cli-Fi (climate fiction). I have been at the depths of fatalism feeling totally overwhelmed, close to giving up and becoming totally self-indulgent. But I have also been at the opposite end, totally empowered sharing this knowledge and passion to make the change we need to see happen.  

What I am trying to say is that it is ok to stop and reflect where you are, you will feel a mix of emotions it is only natural when dealing with the grief that our lives are going to change. We can wait for the natural world to change our lives or we can accept that we need to change them sooner and keep some self-determination in how we live our lives. Once you realise where you are you can put in place changes to help yourself deal with this information. It is easy to fall into fatalism if you feel alone in tackling this issue, you can recycle everything, you can cut down/cut out meat, you can even refuse to fly and do your best to cycle everywhere but if you are doing it alone then you will feel like your actions don’t really make a difference.  

The politics of climate crisis breaks everything down to the individual, it is people who are the problem and who need to change. Hardly surprising given the current dominant ideology neoliberalism… but I’m not going to delve into that one as this post is solely about trying to help people cope with climate change. The truth is people are not separate from the natural world and we are not separate from each other. When you try to deal with climate change alone through your own actions, of course, that is a great thing to do, but you are only halfway to solving the problem. Everything is connected and as soon as you go out and connect with others, make yourself part of the communities of people working together to make change happen that is where the real solution lies.  

If we want to avoid ecological and therefore societal collapse, then we need to spread climate crisis information and we need to do it fast but most importantly we need to do it whilst helping each other along. Once you are part of a movement of a change then you are more resilient and so is the movement. When you are part of something larger than yourself, you are empowered, and when you do hit hard times, you may reach burn out, then you are around people who understand, and you can step back and look after yourself knowing that it is ok.  

After coping with this for 5 years, I have tried almost everything.  

The first thing is to take action, get involved in a group whose values align with yours and act in your own life what you believe to be true but also don’t be too hard on yourself that’s not doing anybody any good.  

Don’t be Atlas, a Greek titan who held the heavens on his shoulders, don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders! Take breaks, this is probably the most important, nobody is superhuman and can cope with this information 24 hours a day. Find a hobby you love and give yourself time off, personally for me playing music and spending time in my allotment always grounds me. 

Be healthy, trying to make a healthier world for everyone includes yourself. Eat well, sleep well and get regular exercise. If you do recognise that you aren’t feeling great go out for a walk somewhere or bike, run, swim, yoga, canoe, horse ride, hike, camp, dance… you get the idea. Get your body moving! 

Reflect. Of course, it is important that we know the truth, the reality of the situation but we don’t want to live in fear. Fear has its place, it gears us into fight or flight, and we do need to fight. But being in this mindset 24/7 will make you mentally and physically unwell and running from the problem, ignoring it, that’s not good either. The opposite end of the scale is being in total hope, optimism that things will sort themselves out, it is easier to not act if you are too hopeful that the situation is going to improve. Reflection requires you to constantly bring yourself back into balanceCome up with your own personal resilience strategy and get active!  

How do you cope with the information about climate and ecological breakdown on a daily basis? Do let us know! 

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-This blog post was written by Vanessa Odell, an Education for Sustainable Development Coordinator in the Green Academy Team at NTU. 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

What is NTU catering doing to reduce plastic

Plastic was first widely used in the 1950s and since then more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced with at least 79% of this ending up in a landfill. Here at NTU Catering Services, we have directed one of our main focuses on the reduction of this plastic waste. As a department, we have already made substantial improvements and given ourselves ambitious objectives for the future including to reduce plastic waste by 70% in the following year. Some of the things we have done so far include-

  • Reusable cups – Eco-friendly reusable cups have been introduced into all catering outlets with customers being encouraged to purchase these by being offered a discount incentive for each hot drink they buy when using them. The cups were chosen as they are made from bamboo material which is extremely eco-friendly as it is fast growing, requires minimal water and no fertilisers or pesticides, absorbs over four times more CO2 than trees, and produces up to a third more oxygen. The use of reusable mugs has increased in all outlets with some reaching as much as 40% of hot drink sales.

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  • Disposable cups – Previously plastic disposable water cups were provided for customers, these have now been eradicated from circulation with customers being encouraged to use reusable water bottles or purchase paper cups. This has removed 116,000 plastic cups from landfill annually. Reusable steel water bottles are also being sold at the university rather than plastic as they are long-lasting and recyclable without degradation resulting in a sustainable closed-loop system.

 

  • Plastic bottles– In 2017/18 182,774 soft drinks were purchased in plastic bottles by NTU Catering Services, these have all now been replaced with aluminum canned drinks which are easily recyclable and use less raw materials to manufacture and produce fewer emissions than plastic bottles.

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  • Takeaway containers – Previously all takeaway containers were made from polystyrene which is a non-biodegradable material that produces ozone-damaging chemicals during production and contributes negatively to the climate. These containers have now all been replaced with a sugar-based product which is 100% biodegradable, compostable, renewable and requires less energy to produce.

 

  • Disposable cutlery -In 2017/18 168,750 individual items of plastic cutlery were purchased by the department this has now been replaced with a cornstarch-based alternative which is up to 68% carbon neutral, 100% biodegradable and has a much lower carbon footprint than the PS plastic standard cutlery.

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-This blog post was written by Mandy Gordon, who works for NTU catering services. Many thanks from the Green Academy team. 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

How to reduce your avoidable waste

How to reduce your avoidable waste

Our top tips;

  1. Plan your week to avoid unnecessary purchases.
  2. Invest in reusables; get a water bottle, coffee cup, and bag for life to use every day!
  3. Say no to packaging – challenge your favourite shops, supermarkets and even your place of work or study to ditch unnecessary packaging.
  4. Always think ‘Do you really need it?’

The term ‘avoidable waste ‘has been used a lot in recent UK government publications including the 25 Year Environment Plan which set targets to eliminate ‘avoidable waste’ by 2050. But what really is ‘avoidable waste’?

Many people jump straight to images of straws floating around in the oceans on Blue Planet 2 and believe they have made a significant difference by transitioning to paper straws. In reality, straws make up such a small amount of the weight of waste produced by any person or organisation that swapping from plastic to paper is not the most sustainable action you could be taking.

To make a difference we need to be aiming to consume responsibly. Try to think about the full lifecycle of what you use on a day-to-day basis. Important questions such as: “How many people are employed to collect the raw materials?”; “How much fuel is used to transport this to the manufacturing plant?” and, “How much energy is needed to dispose of at its end of life?” should be considered.  Along with all the other steps in between, this can often help you to understand that the period of time you own any product is actually often quite a small proportion of its lifecycle.

The best way to prioritise the actions you should be taking is by using the waste hierarchy:

Prevention

Ideally, we should prevent waste from being created in the first place. You can do this by making some simple changes to everyday items.

Zero Waste

Zero waste shops can be great for bulk buying food products including pasta, rice and coffee in your own containers that you can use again and again. Similarly zero packaging bathroom products including bars of shampoo, conditioner, and soap can eliminate unnecessary plastic packaging.

Lush – ‘One lorry load of solid shampoo bars holds roughly the same number of washes as 15 lorries filled with liquid shampoo, meaning less traffic on the roads- lowering your carbon footprint as well as wastage.’

Plan Ahead

Planning and preparing your weeks’ worth of meals ahead of time can reduce the need for buying lunch every day. Pre-prepared meals and “meal-deals” often come in lots of non-recyclable and/or unnecessary packaging which can also be expensive!

Go Digital

Do you need to write all of your work and lecture notes down? Are you sick of getting promotional fliers through your door or at work? Challenge it and request that you don’t receive them anymore!

Reuse

If preventing waste is unrealistic then reusing your current items is the next best option. Many shops encourage the use of reusables by charging for plastic carrier bags and discounting the price of hot drinks in a reusable coffee cup. These provide great incentives but there are plenty of things you can also do individually.

Refill App

Try downloading the ‘Refill’ app to help locate local water fountains to refill your water bottle instead of buying a single-use one.

Reusable Household Items

Reusable makeup wipes/face cloths and refillable makeup containers can help make a daily routine more sustainable. Similarly, why use kitchen roll to clean up spills in the kitchen when you can use a rotation of washable cloths?

Clothing

In a modern world of fast fashion, we are often too quick to buy new outfits for every occasion. Try asking yourself if you will wear the garment more than 20 times? If the answer is ‘no’, leave it and only invest in what you really need. When it comes to clothes you already own it is always best to repair, donate, sell and swap your old clothes so that they can be reused by somebody else instead of being discarded completely.

Freecycle

Join a local group in which members advertise a whole range of household items and clothes that you can collect for free. You can also give your old items a second life when you no longer need or want them.

Donate

This message can also be used in reference to other household belongings including electronics, books, films, and furniture! Each of the universities we work with host British Heart Foundation collections at the end of each academic year for staff and students to donate to.

Recycling

When disposing of any waste, make sure you read the signage so that you know what can and can’t be recycled. Recyclable materials tend to include paper, metal tins and cans and clear plastics. If you aren’t sure, ask us!

Recovery

Reduce your food waste by planning your weekly shops and if you still have food waste, can you compost it? Can you take it to a specialist food waste bin? Enva’s food waste is taken to anaerobic digestion with energy recovery which vastly reduces the carbon emissions when compared with food waste going into landfill or being incinerated.

To find out more what universities are doing to reduce waste, check out the ENVA universities blogs: https://enva.com/universities-blog

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-This blog post was written by Robyn Thompson, NTU alumni and the Key accounts coordinator at NTU waste contractor Enva. Many thanks from the Green Academy team. 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

Energy at NTU & what YOU can do

In the Sustainable Development Team we’re taking a step back and looking at energy usage at NTU with a fresh pair of eyes! We think there’s plenty to be done that can improve our efficiency and help reduce NTU’s environmental impact and you can help too.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 7 sets out an ambition to ensure people around the world have ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’. As a signatory to these goals, we are committed to contributing towards these global efforts and so our ‘Goal 7’ project was born!

As a snapshot, our data suggests lighting left on unnecessarily in the City Campus produces over a tonne of CO2 each year! This is the same as driving the average petrol car over 5000 miles! Think about the difference we can make if we help to change this, particularly with the summer holidays on the horizon. We’ve all seen the news lately with voices around the world raising the alarm on Climate Change – we hope this post will empower you to make positive changes yourself and learn what else is going on around energy at NTU.

The Sustainable Development Team are looking at energy data, surveying high usage buildings and talking with staff from all corners of NTU to prioritise different energy projects and find solutions that will help increase efficiency and reduce total energy usage wherever possible.

We can’t do it alone though, any project like this needs help and support from everyone across the University, in fact…it starts with NTYou! Small changes alone might not always seem like they’re worth doing but don’t despair – together we can make a huge difference!

What you can do will vary depending on your role here at NTU, whether staff or student. Some top tips for reducing your energy consumption while at work and home are:

  • Turning off your PC and monitor at the end of the day
  • Making sure lights are switched off and windows are closed when leaving an empty room
  • Shutting down non-essential equipment and machinery when not in use
  • Staff can report any faults with lighting, infrastructure and machinery via the Estates HelpDesk here to ensure things are fixed promptly
  • Unplug chargers and other items when not in use
  • Stop daydreaming in the shower and keep it to 5 minutes or less
  • Don’t overfill your kettle when having a hot drink – only fill it with what you need
  • Avoid the tumble dryer – now the weathers improving look to hang your washing outside if you can
  • Consider the microwave to reheat food rather than the oven

If we all commit to doing some of the actions listed above, we’ll be well on our way to seeing significant improvements in our environmental performance as a university!

Want to know more or have any questions? Give the Sustainable Development Team a shout on sust.dev@ntu.ac.uk and follow us on social media on Twitter – @NTUEnvironment, Facebook and Instagram!

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-Thank you to Dewi Howell who is a Sustainable Development Project Coordiantor at NTU, for writing this blog post!

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

HOW YOUR CLOTHING COULD POTENTIALLY IMPACT THE ENVIRONMENT

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For quite a long time when I would think of sustainability, climate change, and the environment, reduction of plastic consumption would come to mind. As far as I can remember plastic has always been a known cause of environmental problems because it’s nonbiodegradable and it produces toxic fumes when burnt, we all probably know that. What fascinated me was finding out that clothing had an impact on the environment, the debate continues as to how bad the industry is compared to the oil and gas industry.

The problem with the clothing industry it seems is the mass production and consumption of clothing and a quick disposal rate which has coined the term Fast Fashion. In simple terms, I’m sure most of you, or someone you know, owns clothing from Zara, Primark, H&M, New Look, River Island, Boohoo, Missguided, Pretty Little Thing to name a few. These brands bring the latest fashion trends from the runway and offer them to us at a low price. An example is shown below, the chunky Alexander McQueen sneakers cost about £365/ ZMW5790/ P5120 however Primark sold a very similar version for only £8/ ZMW126/ P112, which sold out quite fast. It works for us as consumers because on average, when we’re about to make a purchase dopamine “happy drug/chemical” is released in anticipation of a reward and when we see a discount or the word “sale” it spikes up (Dahl, 2017).
Source: Murphy, 2019

 

Source: Murphy, 2019
What the example above illustrates is that, as a rationale shopper who cannot afford the originals but admires the look of the sneaker, it’ll make logical sense that you go for the cheaper option. How does this impact the environment? The increase in demand for these products results in mass production in factories that are often set up in countries with less stringent environmental regulations. The factories release toxic fumes into the air containing greenhouse gases, they spill chemicals and dyes into rivers and one other major problem is that a lot of water is required in the process of growing cotton for our clothes.
Tullahan River contaminated with dyes
There are some opposing views as to whether the clothing industry is a major concern and if we should focus on more pressing matters. I can see where they are coming from but I think looking at our consumption behaviour as individuals is a way in which we can help “save the environment”, placing taxes on heavily polluting industries can only be done by our governments which means we sit and watch by the sidelines. I did not give any facts and figures as I just wanted to give an overview of what I have learned from my own research, I don’t remember exact figures but they were convincing enough to make me believe that I had to make some changes.
It is also important to note that these brands are trying to produce more ethically by sourcing their fabrics in a more sustainable manner, for instance, Zara has a Join Life collection and H&M has a Conscious line. Whether its a case of greenwashing is hard to tell but I guess they are trying. There are other purely ethical brands like Everlane, Arket, Reformation, etc but they are quite pricey.
A few tips on what you can do to make a change without spending loads of money on ethical and sustainable brands:
1. Don’t shop for the sake of it. Appreciate what is already in your closet and make the most of it instead of buying an outfit for every occasion. I personally use Pinterest on days when I can’t think of outfits to wear. I simply type in the item of clothing I want to wear e.g. black t-shirt and a bunch of suggestions come up. Sometimes I simply search ‘winter outfits/ going out outfits’ and I pick the ones that match the clothing I already own.
2. If you do feel like shopping or “treating yourself”, invest in versatile and classic pieces that go with multiple outfits finding clothing to wear will be so much easier. Look at capsule wardrobes for women and men.
3. Buy quality clothing, ‘cheap is expensive’, if you buy something cheap and it loses it shape or colour quickly then you’ll probably keep repurchasing the item and in the long term, you’ll realise that saving up for a better quality option could have been cheaper.
4. Buy from charity shops. I personally still struggle with this because I can’t always find my style and I don’t like the musty smell of the clothes but I’m trying to give it a shot.
Resources to find out about fast fashion and its environmental impact:
Building a capsule wardrobe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6Q76vYkOMI
True Cost documentary on Netflix
Stacey Dooley’ Fashion’s Dirty Secrets documentary on BBC iPlayer
NB: If you are a student at Nottingham Trent University you can take the Sustainability in Practice course on Clothing to find out more information.

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-This blog post was written by Luwi Kapepa, a student in the Nottingham Business School who completed the Clothing theme of the Sustainability in Practice Certificate 2018-19.  

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

Fair Trade and Fast Fashion

Fashion is one of the biggest industries in the world, with an annual turnover of more than 3 trillion dollars. Yet the workers at the bottom of the supply chain see very little of the profits. In many countries, farmers growing cotton and garment production line workers are poorly paid and subjected to harsh working conditions, to enable us to have the latest fashion trend at the click of a button.

Cotton farmers in some of the poorest countries in the world face numerous barriers to earning a decent living, rising costs of production, climate change and a market that is distorted by subsidies given to cotton farmers in wealthier countries including the USA and China. The subsidies help to lower the market price of cotton, enabling larger producers to export their cotton for less than it costs to produce in West Africa or India (Fairtrade.org.uk 2019).

How can my choices make a difference?

The easiest way to help producers of cotton is to look for companies who use Fairtrade cotton in their clothing lines.  The Fairtrade Foundation lists a whole host of them on their website, but a few of the biggest labels include People Tree and White Stuff for men’s and women’s fashion; Little Green Radicals for childrenswear; and Constant Climbing for Sportswear.  Other Fairtrade cotton products are also available, such as bags, towels and bed linen.fair trade

Choosing Fairtrade fashion not only helps the cotton farmers but also tends to help those further along the chain, making the clothing that ends up on our high streets. A company who has chosen to invest in Fairtrade cotton suppliers is also likely to care about ethics throughout their supply chain, often setting up their own factories to ensure that workers’ rights are being met and lives are being improved.

For example, People Tree have committed to a fully traceable and transparent supply chain, monitored by the Fairtrade Foundation and the World Fairtrade Organisation (WFTO). They work closely with their suppliers to ensure that workers are treated well by their employers, in factories that are fit-for-purpose and provide training to enable workers to enhance their skills and therefore boost their incomes.

Many major clothing retails now offer more ethical lines of clothing within their brands. Whether this may be using organic cotton, or committing to the principals of Fairtrade, this is a step in a more sustainable future for fashion. The next time you are shopping, take a little more time to find out if your favourite brands are doing anything to improve the lives of people who make their clothes. Don’t like what you see? Join the #FashionRevolution and call them out.

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-Thank you to Gill Moczarski who is a Sustainable Development Assistant at NTU, for writing this blog post!

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

Stand Against Fast Fashion: Fashion Revolution Week

In 2016, 1,130,000 tonnes of clothing was purchased in the UK. That’s a lot of hours we’ve spent scrolling through ASOS, browsing the clothing racks in Zara and avoiding tripping over a fugitive toddler during a Saturday morning visit to Primark. Seemingly, we also needed to make room for all our new purchases, considering a staggering 300,000 tonnes was thrown away in 2016. Our love for ‘Fast Fashion’ and throwaway culture has granted the clothing and textile industry the rather unflattering title of Second Most Polluting Industry, beaten by the oil industry only by a nose. Chemicals used to grow fibers, dye fabrics, and wash garments end up polluting rivers, damaging local ecosystems and causing health problems in the local population. The textile industry also contributes to larger environmental issues such as air pollution, habitat destruction, and ocean pollution. In addition to this, the social effects are equally as devastating. Working conditions for textile workers are often unsafe, with low wages and non-existing rights. With around 80% of the workforce being women, it turns out wearing slogan T-shirts proclaiming our ‘wokeness’ is actually contributing to upholding the very same social structures we want to dismantle.

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With the alarming reports on the urgency of climate change as well as widespread social injustice globally, this is not something to take lightly. One thing is clear – if we want to sort out this mess, action is needed on all levels, in all sectors. Consumers, as well as producers and distributors, have a role to play, pushing sustainable, ethical fashion to become accessible for all.

So, what can be done? The easy answer is buying less and choose better; however, this is a highly simplified quick-fix to a much bigger problem. By putting pressure on brands to make changes and become more transparent in their practices, consumers can use their powers to make a long-term difference. This week is Fashion Revolution Week, an initiative led by the global movement Fashion Revolution to mark the anniversary of the Rana Plaza Disaster in 2015, a factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 which killed 1138 people and injured many more.  During this week, you are encouraged to ask your favourite brands the burning question #WhoMadeMyClothes to contribute to more transparent fashion industry.SiP Logo Clothing for events advertising pixels 881 x 585If you want to learn more about how clothing and sustainability are linked, keep your eyes out for the re-launch of the clothing version of the Sustainability in Practice Certificate in September 2019. This is a free, online course available for all students and staff at NTU, where you can explore the Sustainable Development Goals and how you can contribute to a better future.

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-Thank you to Lina Erlandsson, who is an Education for Sustainable Development Coordinator in the NTU Green Academy, for writing this blog post!

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!

 

Think Global Act Local – Get involved with Nottingham Green Festival

The Nottingham Green Festival is organised by grassroots community-based volunteers and is in its 27th year. This year it will be held on 15th September in the Arboretum, with at least 5,000 visitors expected to attend. It promotes ethical standards around sustainability, the environment, human rights, and animal rights. As a community-based group, the festival could not happen without the hard work and dedication of volunteers.

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There are some exciting opportunities for students and staff at NTU to get involved in the organising, running or speaking at the event. Please see below for more information about the specific ways you can get involved.

Organiser roles

Nottingham Green Festival is seeking volunteers to help organise the event, related events and to join the committee. The team is especially looking for help with social media, contacting the media, graphic design, fundraising events, contacting sponsors and distributing publicity. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate and hone existing skills, learn new ones and gain valuable experience.

Speakers

The festival team is looking for informed speakers to give short introductory talks that will engage the public; approximately twenty minutes in length. They are particularly interested in debates or talks around ‘Sustainable growth or degrowth’, ‘Creating the political will for an effective response to the global crisis’, ‘Techno-fixes; what is possible and what is not’ and ‘Brexit, sustainability and resilience’.

Event Volunteers

Nottingham Green Festival is seeking Stewards, Welcome, Recycling and Refreshment Volunteers to help at the festival on the day. All these roles are the public face of the Nottingham Green Festival. These important positions provide volunteers with the opportunity to gain experience in customer service, promotions, and event operations.

Just some of the ways you could benefit from one of these volunteering opportunities:

  • Join a small and friendly team
  • Work in a beautiful place and historical surroundings
  • Meet new people
  • Learn new skills
  • Help us to shape our future
  • Take part in an exciting project
  • Use their skills to benefit a local community group
  • Be part of the team raising awareness about ecological issues, human rights and animal rights

If you are interested in one of these roles or would like to find out more get in touch with the festival organisers before 31st May 2019.

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-This blog post was written by Ellie Lewis the Sustainable Development Projects Officer in the Sustainable Development Team at NTU. Many thanks from the NTU Green Academy! 

Want to write a blog post that’s featured on this site? Email us your ideas today at GreenAcademy@ntu.ac.uk!