eco-fashion

Meet Lia Kassif: Winner Redress Design Award 2017

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GreenStitched sits down with the finalists of Redress Design Award 2017 (earlier EcoChic Design Award). Redress Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress, inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste.
The interviews with these young designers will be posted every Thursday on GreenStitched.
Today we meet Lia, winner of the Redress Design Award 2017!

MeetTheFinalists-Lia Kassif
What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Lia: My awareness of the negative impact that the fashion industry has on the environment, humanity and natural resources was raised after attending an inspiring lecture by Orsola de Castro. The lecture with Orsola de Castro as part of a sustainable fashion course in Shankar last year, was a turning point in my view of the world. She was so convincing about other and better ways to work in the fashion world to make this place better and to stop harming our world, and it influenced a change in both my personal and professional life.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Lia: For army uniforms, it was because of the fact that every Israeli must serve in the army and wear the uniform for at least 2 years of their lives. I was drawn to wedding dresses, as it is the biggest industry in the fashion scene in Israel, and every girl’s dream. The contrast between those two materials, the roughness versus the softness and gentleness are important to Israeli culture.
My inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection was the famous phrase from the bible Isaiah 2:4 “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” It means that mankind, in the apocalypse, will transform their weapons into working tools. In other words, the nations will no longer fight against each other and there will be peace in the world. This is why I chose to transform military uniforms into casual garments for my collection, emphasizing the transformation by using lace and delicate materials as a total contradiction to the army uniform.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_2ndAndSpecialPrizeWinner_Israel_Lia Kassif_Full Collection
3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Lia: I learnt a lot from the whole experience! I think that now I understand sustainable fashion much better. The movie “The True Cost” really was brought to life when Redress took us to the TAL factory and I saw all the workers and the production process.

The Redress x Miele Consumer Care Challenge taught me that even Houte Couture dresses could be found in clothing bins, like the Christian Dior dress that we reconstructed – this has made the experience of looking in bins more exciting.
From all the experiences I learned how to work and design with group of people from all around the world that sharing the same passion to make the fashion industry better.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Lia: The change of sustainable fashion from niche to mainstream is split into two drivers – consumers and manufacturers.

Consumers have to change their habits, by buying less and buying more effectively and avoiding fashion trends. They need to be more aware about their clothes are sourced and made. They need to bring the sustainability issue to the front and combine it with their daily routine.
Manufacturers have to use green technology to produce, they must take action against pollution, and produce less clothes, to launch less collections every year and to increase the awareness of sustainable fashion among their consumers.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Lia: I believe the biggest misconception of consumers about sustainable fashion is that recycled clothes and sustainable fashion is dirty, worn out and old. They don’t understand that the garments and the materials go through cleaning process before they are reaching the stores.

I believe that sometimes ecologic fashion and recycled materials can look even better than the original garment.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Lia: My advice for the next generation of fashion designers is to increase the awareness to this field to their customers, that they should aim produce less but better – by acting to sustainable principles.

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Lia: Since the Redress Design Award and after my graduation from Shankar, I have started working on my new sustainable brand ready to wear collection which builds on my collection shown in Hong Kong at the competition finale. Along with this I have just finished working on a new collection for The R Collective, which up-cycles military uniforms from around the world and will be launched soon.

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You can follow Lia’s work on her Facebook and Instagram
The Redress Design Award 2018 semi-finalists have just been announced and Redress are asking you to be a judge and vote for your favourite of these 30 emerging sustainable designers from across the world who will be awarded the ‘People’s Choice’. Vote now at redressdesignaward.com
Find a screening of the Frontline Fashion documentary in India here.

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Meet Kate Morris: Winner Redress Design Award 2017

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GreenStitched sits down with the finalists of Redress Design Award 2017 (earlier EcoChic Design Award). Redress Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress, inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste.

The interviews with these young designers will be posted every Thursday on GreenStitched.

Today we meet Kate, winner of the Redress Design Award 2017!

EcoChic Design Award 2017 1st Prize Winner_Kate Morris

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Kate:
The time I was getting into fashion design coincided with the Rana Plaza disaster which, like for so many people, really opened up my mind to how critical the problems had gotten in the fashion industry. Part of me wanted to run screaming, but a bigger part of me wanted to design fashion to contribute to change.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Kate:
A lot of my inspiration for my Redress Design Award collection came from my fine art background and through visiting art galleries. I looked at pop art visuals of food and was interested in how people’s attitudes to food have changed in relation to attitudes to fashion.
Cutting out wasted time and energy as well as materials inspired me to create minimal seam silhouettes combined with zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction techniques to create a diverse range of knitwear. The concept behind the collection is technology and hand craft working in harmony, I wanted to celebrate the possibilities within digital knitwear production as well as maintaining a tactile connection with the wearer and encouraging people to get making, mending and reusing through the hand-crafted elements.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_1stPrizeWinner_UK_KateMorris_Full Collection

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Kate:
This competition really has been the biggest adventure I have ever been on!
Creating my collection transformed my view of what up-cycling can achieve as well as what’s possible in a small time frame!
I learnt how easy it is to source luxury materials the industry considers waste, companies were really keen to get involved and I was doing them a favour by taking the materials off their hands.
The week of the grand finale hugely broadened my mind-set and horizons alongside meeting so many fantastic people. Winning first prize has bought me confidence, exposure and the valuable opportunity to work and learn with influential platform.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Kate:
I predict that sustainable fashion design will become the normal practice and any brand who is not following this will not last very long. Consumers will keep demanding to know more about their clothing and tighter regulations will be put in place for more ethical manufacturing.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Kate:
I think the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion is that aesthetics have to be compromised in order to create low impact products. A lot of designers believe it has too many limitations, but it is working within these boundaries that leads the most exciting and rewarding designs for me.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Kate:
I believe to be a successful fashion designer today you have to be aware of how your design decisions will affect the rest of the supply chain, the planet and creatures within it. I also think that having good time management, organisation, communication and calculation skills are just as important as being creative!
My advice is to try and not feel overwhelmed by all the different factors within sustainable design, start by picking one aspect that you feel most passionate about, for example minimalising waste in fashion, and other elements will lead on from there. Try to see the limitations as opportunities to create unexpected designs that will have a story that consumers can connect to.

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Kate:
I just launched a sustainable knitwear ‘Pop’ collection with The R Collective. It is now available to buy at http://www.thercollective.com and select pieces will be available exclusively at Lane Crawford, Asia’s leading iconic luxury department store, from March 2018. Working with The R Collective opened up my eyes to the sheer scale of surplus yarn stock that accumulates through current manufacturing systems. We were working with perfect condition, extremely luxury yarns that were considered waste as the result of brands changing their minds after sampling a dye-lot, cancelling orders or miss-calculating, or the aversion to replicating the same colour across two seasons.
I am also hoping to slowly launch my own brand CROP by this year. To enable this, I am currently looking into working with start-up company ‘Kniterate’ who are producing affordable compact digital knitting machines aimed at enabling small labels to create custom made/small runs and bring local manufacturing back to their neighbourhoods. When exploring conventional manufacturing routes, so far, I have been stunted by high minimums and the struggles of maintaining a transparent supply chain/ connection with my product’s story.

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You can follow Kate’s work on her website and Instagram

The 30 Redress Design Award 2018 semi-finalists will be announced on 17 April at www.redressdesignaward.com when Redress will also open up public judging for the People’s Choice Award.

Find a screening of the Frontline Fashion documentary in India here.

Meet Sarah Devina Susanto: Finalist Redress Design Award 2017

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GreenStitched sits down with the finalists of Redress Design Award 2017 (earlier EcoChic Design Award). Redress Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress, inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste.

The interviews with these young designers will be posted every Thursday on GreenStitched.

Today we meet Sarah, finalist of the Redress Design Award 2017.

MeetTheFinalists-Sarah Devina Susanto

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Sarah:
Previously, I never thought that someday I might go down the path of being a sustainable designer, but the Redress Design Award was a light bulb moment for me, offering me the opportunity to explore and demonstrate my researches and techniques under a sustainable lens.
Environmental issues are something that I have learnt in class, but by joining this competition, it enabled me to challenge myself as a fashion designer to develop my own practice of work to be as environmentally aware as possible and reflect it through my collection.
To me, sustainable fashion means living in balance. Maintaining sustainability is creating a system that can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility. I am aware of the amount of waste created in the production process and I see the potential for this waste to be transformed into new garments or details throughout my collection.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Sarah:
The name of my collection “Dirghayu” comes from the Sanskrit words “Dirgha” (which means “long”) and “Ayu” (which means “life”). My collection was inspired by the historical story behind Indonesia’s Independence Day tradition. The infamous competition of the Independence Day celebration is a jute sack race which marks the time under Japan occupation when Indonesian workers were forced to wear jute sacks as clothing. Jute sacks are the focal of this collection, coexisting with Japanese inspired silhouettes and elements, such as kimono shapes, obi belt and pleats. The ropes and braids details throughout the collection resemble the tug of war tradition also occurring during the Independence Day celebrations. The aim of this collection was to deliver a heart-touching tale and evoke the emotion of the Indonesian peoples suffering and struggle before the country’s independence.
I applied the up-cycling technique of jute sack fabric, hand painting them and created new clothes by combining them with secondhand bed sheets that i sourced from hotels in Jakarta. I also created tassels and braid detailing throughout the collection using cut-and-sew waste scrap fabrics.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_Finalist_Indonesia_SarahDevinaSusanto_Full Collection

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Sarah:
During the process, I learned to be more considerate  when designing and practicing the sustainable techniques. The amount of production scared me the most as I only had two months to make the collection! It required more, even double time in outsourcing materials, designing, creating details, and production compared to the production of normal collection. Throughout the busy competition, I definitely learned to deal with my stress levels!
Another challenge was thinking whether people would accept my designs because they didn’t follow trends, in term of materials.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Sarah:
It all comes down to the way how consumer perceives sustainable fashion. We, as the designers have to prove that there can be a balance between sustainability and aesthetics; then people will start to change their thinking about fashion. We also can slowly change consumers’ misconceptions around sustainability in general by spreading more positive information about the opportunities.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Sarah:
Sustainable fashion is not just some homemade craft making use of recycled waste – I think this may be the biggest misconception. Sustainable fashion doesn’t have to be like secondhand, old clothes with lot of patches and poor finishing. Sustainable fashion is about looking at the processes along the entire fashion supply chain, and improving them.
Meanwhile, the consumers have no idea what actually goes on in the supply chain, which makes it difficult for them to make enlightened decisions about sustainability. The whole attitude towards consumption needs to change, and consumers need to realize that they need to understand the resources required to produce a garment/item, appreciating craftsmanship and stop demanding fast fashion.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Sarah:
As today’s fashion industry is so fast paced and consumers are constantly looking for new things made from new materials, it is important to remember that we, as designers, are able to create new clothes using waste that are equal to new through originality and creative ways. It’s not about wanting new things all the time. We should stop for a moment and consider why sustainable fashion is important for us today and how to reflect it in our work.

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Sarah:
I’m planning to continue my studies for my bachelor’s degree next year. I also want to focus in developing my own brand, so stay tuned!

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You can follow Sarah’s work on Instagram

The 30 Redress Design Award 2018 semi-finalists will be announced on 17 April at www.redressdesignaward.com when Redress will also open up public judging for the People’s Choice Award.

Find a screening of the Frontline Fashion documentary in India here.

Meet Claire Dartigues: Finalist Redress Design Award 2017

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Through the next two months, GreenStitched sits down with the finalists of Redress Design Award 2017 (earlier EcoChic Design Award). Redress Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress, inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste.

The interviews with these young designers will be posted every Thursday on GreenStitched.

Today we meet Claire, finalist of the Redress Design Award 2017.

MeetTheFinalists-Claire Dartigues

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Claire:
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. If we want to live better and longer, we need to dress smarter! Sustainability has been part of my education and now I consider it as a core value of my activity.

I always had a sustainable frame of mind, but it was only at university when I was getting some sustainability teaching that I put two together and realized I was a sustainable designer.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Claire:
The collection takes inspiration from polluted rivers all over the world because of chemicals products used to dye fabrics and sets out to connect the two very different worlds of finance and blue-collar workers. I applied the up-cycling and reconstruction techniques along with natural dyes to industry surplus clothing and textiles.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_Finalist_France_ClaireDartigues_Full Collection

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Claire:
During the challenges I learnt a lot about the circular economy and how you can make it work on a bigger scale. Redress took us to visit manufacturer, TAL’s facility in China, where they make shirts for big brands all over the world. This visit was an amazing experience, I learnt so much about the manufacturing world and how to make it more sustainable on a huge scale.
I discovered different visions of sustainable fashion thanks to the other competitors. We came from all over the world with so many different culture, it was a pleasure to learn from them and listen their vision of fashion.
I also learnt a lot about myself, this competition helped me to grow as a fashion designer. It increased my motivation to develop a better fashion industry! 

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Claire:
We need consumers to change their behavior. If they show – through what they buy – that don’t want to buy fast fashion any more, the industry will start to change their strategy seriously. Fashion companies also need to communicate about their products better to be more transparent.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Claire:
In France, one misconception is that most of the people think that you can’t do sustainable fashion if the production is in Asia, which is completely wrong. I think every country has a specialty and we live in a globalized world. I agree that producing in the same country where you’re selling your product to avoid transportation and carbon impact is good, but at the same time if you can’t find the expertise you need to relocate this to get your best product. The problem is not the relocation but how brands can make sure that they continue to respect their sustainable values wherever they produce.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Claire:
Sustainable fashion is not an exact science. You can do your best to be sustainable, but you don’t have to fill all the criteria immediately. Take one step at the time!

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Claire:
I just returned from the USA to live in France. I have my own atelier in Paris Suburb where I am developing my transformable zero-waste accessories line. I am also working as a free-lancer for other brands all over the world. I am actually working on some projects with Indian brands right now!

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You can follow Claire’s work on Facebook and Instagram and her website.

Watch Frontline Fashion, a  documentary following these talented Asian and European emerging fashion designers determined to change the future of fashion. As they descend into Hong Kong for the design battle of their lives, all eyes are on the first prize; to design an up-cycled collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang. This documentary is available on iTunes here.
Find a screening of this documentary in India here.

The next cycle of the Redress Design Award is open for application till 13 March 2018. Interested designers can find more details here.

Cradle to Cradle: Fashion’s Grave Reality

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The circular economy.

Closing the loop.

Cradle to cradle.

These are all phrases you may well have heard of. If not, best to familiarise yourself with them a.s.a.p. As our increasingly consumerist lifestyles reach tipping point, organisations are desperately trying to gather and reuse our rubbish, because otherwise, we may have nothing left to make anything with.

This year’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit was kicked off by someone I had, until that moment, not heard of: Bill McDonough. If you are as clueless as I was, take the next 14 minutes and 30 seconds to get to know him and his ideas a little better. You won’t regret it.

Interesting, right?

People were still clapping by the time I’d completed my purchase of his book, Cradle to Cradle.

Fashion’s grave reality

McDonough’s work is clearly applicable to the creation of many, if not all, products. But it is particularly relevant to clothing because this industry has arguably one of the most linear and wasteful cycles in modern society. And this cycle’s impact on the environment is exacerbated by its speed and the quantities involved.

take make dispose clothing lifecycle fashion

The fashion cycle: cradle to grave

With 92 million tonnes of textile waste being produced by the global fashion industry in 2015, corresponding to more than 12 kg per person, it’s clear that we are hemorrhaging valuable resources every second of every day.

So What Exactly is Being Wasted?

I recently wrote about the differences between natural and man-made fibres, and the importance, as a consumer, of understanding where these different fibres come from.

In particular, I highlighted popular man-made fibre polyester as the most used in clothing production today.

Polyester is derived from fossil fuels, one of our planet’s none renewable resources. A resource so valuable in fact, that it should be treated as a ‘nest egg’ McDonough suggests.

And yet, not only do we buy cheap, poorly made clothing using this precious resource, but we throw it out in such a way that these valuable materials cannot be retrieved.

Perhaps excavating landfill sites will be a common activity in the future?

How insanely backward would that be?

How Can the Fashion Industry Do It Better?

How can this regressive fashion industry transform itself into a regenerative one?

When it comes to fashion, and the materials we use, we can work to achieve a circular system in two ways:

By creating a “biological” cycle, whereby an item made with 100% natural fibres (wool for example), able to be broken down by bacteria, is reclaimed by nature into its vast ecosystem when we no longer want or require it.

clothing fashion lifecycle cradle to cradle biodegradable

The fashion cycle: cradle to cradle (biological)

Or a “technical” one, whereby the clothing we buy made of man-made fibres is designed in such a way that the fibres can be separated and reused in a never-ending production cycle, whilst not degrading in quality.

 

fashion clothing lifecycle recycle circular cradle to cradle

The fashion cycle: cradle to cradle (technical)

Some organisations are themselves working on large-scale collection schemes in their shops. These schemes provide them with the raw materials to experiment with ways of recycling fibres.TT

Unintelligent and Inelegant Things…

My favourite phrase from ‘Cradle to Cradle’ is: ‘products that are not designed particularly for human and ecological health are unintelligent and inelegant –what we call crude products

Everything we buy, and everything we do, is part of a bigger process.

We can’t know everything. But know this: as a wearer of clothes, what you chose to buy and wear really matters. Because with every purchase, you are telling the world who and what you support.

Choose not to buy cheap clothes from people who cannot tell you how or where their products are made.

Chose not to buy clothing from companies who ignore our collective responsibility to address the issues the fashion industry and, by default, we all face.

A product without background, without craftsmanship, made without thought or purpose or regard for the future is a product without beauty, without meaning and without worth.

It’s a crude purchase. Simple.

*This story first appeared on Study 34

How NOT to Make the Fashion Industry More Sustainable

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This week, representatives from all the major brands – from fast fashion retailers like H&M, Asos and Zara, through to luxury labels like Burberry and Swarowski – are gathering in Copenhagen to discuss sustainability in the global fashion industry.

The fashion industry is one of the most lucrative and destructive industries on earth. It generates €1.5 trillion every year and produces over a billion clothes every year. With global garment production set to increase by 63% by 2030, this model is reaching its physical limit.

This year’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit is focusing  on “circularity” – an industry buzzword that promises relief to the problem of limited resources within one of the world’s most resource intensive industries. In 2015, the fashion industry consumed nearly 80 billion cubic meters of fresh water, emitted over a million tonnes of CO2 and produced 92 million tonnes of waste. The Summit admits that the industry has a disastrous environmental impact and that we face “increasingly higher risk of destabilising the state of the planet, which would result in sudden and irreversible environmental changes”.

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Panelists at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, 10 May 2017. Credit: Copenhagen Fashion Summit

While their focus on circularity sounds promising, it’s simply not enough.

Industry leaders rarely talk about the real solution: reducing the overall volume of production. All their talk about sustainable investing and innovative new materials and technologies comes under the assumption that the industry continues to grow. But unlimited growth is impossible on a planet with finite resources.

The industry wants to place the responsibility on consumers to educate themselves and recycle their own clothes, while continuing to heavily market cheap fast fashion at us.

Real change is not going to happen without investing in designs and strategies to extend the life of clothing and reduce the environmental impact of production at the design stage. Fashion brands need to redefine their marketing strategies and start involving customers in a new narrative where people buy less and clothes are more durable and repairable. We need to slow down.

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Trash queen street performance in Taipei, November 2016
It’s not enough to sell customers placebo solutions that ultimately leave shopping patterns untouched and guilt free. Even if we encourage people to recycle more, we have to remember that recycling is a resource intensive process relying on chemicals and vast amounts of energy, with many unsolved problems making it far from commercially viable.

We already know that we own more clothes than we can wear. Shopping doesn’t make us happy in the long run. High volumes of fast fashion and rapidly changing trends aren’t catering to our real needs.

If the Fashion industry really wants to be “an engine for a global and sustainable development”, it needs to think about how to shift the business model beyond the current paradigm of continuous economic growth. We hope that the fashion industry doesn’t wait until 2030 to realise that.

*This story first appeared on Greenpeace.org

Natural Dye Garden Promotes a Greener Fashion Supply Chain

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Denise Green, assistant professor of Fiber Science & Apparel Design, in front of the newly relocated natural dye garden in the courtyard between Martha Van Rensselaer Hall and the Human Ecology Building.

College of Human Ecology faculty and student efforts to advance sustainable approaches to textile and fashion design has led to the development of the Cornell Natural Dye Garden after a successful crowdfunding campaign that ended in fall 2016.

The project raised $10,365 for the development and cultivation of a dye garden, which will produce a variety of colors that come from the natural world and have a lower environmental impact.

“We know that synthetic dyes cause incredible environmental harm and pollute waterways. Human health is also impacted, particularly for laborers in the textile dyeing industries,” said Denise Green, assistant professor of fiber science and apparel design.

According to organizers, up to 200,000 tons of synthetic dyes are discharged into waterways around the globe every year, making textile dye plants the second-largest polluter of water after agriculture.

In many developing nations where textiles are produced, workers may not be properly protected from the toxic chemicals used to dye fibers and fabrics, making synthetic dyes hazardous to environmental and human health, Green said.

In contrast, natural dyes, some of which come from weeds, are nontoxic. Some of these dye plants have the ability to grow aggressively without herbicides or fungicides.

“We believe natural dyes are an opportunity to make a sustainable intervention in the apparel supply chain,” Green said.

In May 2015, Green, in collaboration with fellow fiber science and apparel design faculty and students, as well as Human Ecology Facilities Services and Cornell Botanic Gardens staff, planted a test garden of natural dye plants at the northeast corner of the Human Ecology Building overlooking Beebe Lake.

“That success led us to the idea to put the garden in a place that’s more accessible for students and more visible in terms of our college life,” Green said.

In spring 2016, Green and her students moved the garden to a plot located in the courtyard between Martha Van Rensselaer Hall and the Human Ecology Building. The relocation of the garden, according to Green, allows students and faculty to grow a wider array of dye plants to be used in teaching and research.

“The new location is highly visible,” Green said, adding that plans are in place to add educational signage for the 2017 growing season.

“Signage means that the garden won’t just be beautiful to look at, and valuable as a natural dye resource, but it will also be an opportunity to educate students, staff and the public about the plants we are growing and the range of colors they yield,” she said.

Beyond working on projects, Green hopes the garden will have deep and long-lasting impacts on fiber science and apparel design students who begin careers in the manufacturing and fashion industries.

“Our hope is they become conscientious citizens of the world who think about the impact that their design will have on the environment, on human health and on many people, which we don’t often think about when we consume fashion,” Green said.

*This story first appeared on Cornell News