Climate Classes, Remake, GW Sustainable Fashion, and the Fashion Connection hosted a sold-out event, Sustainable Fashion Policy 101: How everyday consumers can advocate for change in the fashion industry, at the George Washington University Museum and Textile Museum on Saturday, Sept. 24. The event included a community fair that featured local sustainable organizations and businesses as well as a panel discussion about how policy, coupled with individual action, can be a mechanism for change within the fashion industry. Attendees were able to interact with local makers and organizations within communities that focus on zero waste, conscious consumption, fashion culture and history, and garment worker advocacy, among others. Panel attendees were engrossed in the discussion led by moderator Laurel Anderson Hoffner with speakers Robin R. Runge, Caitlin Rooney, Tara Vassefi, and Holly Thompson.
The panel discussion highlighted hard truths but also hinted at hope for the future of the fashion industry. Panelists discussed gender-based violence in the garment industry, treatment of garment workers in the U.S., the impact of garment factories on water pollution and drought in nearby areas, and the staggering numbers of waste produced by fast fashion. Rooney highlighted the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change (FABRIC) Act introduced by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand following the California Garment Worker Protection Act passed in 2021. The FABRIC Act, if voted into law, would help bring about workplace protections in the U.S. and better textile and apparel production. More information on the Fabric Act and how to support it can be found here. Thompson discussed the simple but straightforward approach of reaching out to brands through their contact pages to express why you are purchasing clothing from them, which informs companies what consumers are looking for in their clothing and what they will continue to look for when purchasing in the future. For more information, you can access the Remake Fashion Accountability Report which measures companies by their “impact on the planet and the people.”
For residents of DC who are not interested in getting involved in politics, there are multiple resources available to practice sustainability in fashion. Vassefi discussed the resources available on zerowaste.dc.gov to assist residents in sending clothing/textiles to be repaired or donated.
You can find the panelists listed below, along with fair participants and links to their pages. If you were unable to attend the event, the panel discussion was recorded and can be viewed here on the Climate Classes YouTube page.
Photo by Christine Jasper/Remake.
- Robin R. Runge, J.D.: Independent consultant and legal expert on gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work; Associate Professorial Lecturer in law at GW’s Law School. Runge recently co-authored an article titled, “Stopping Gender-Based Violence and Harassment at Work: The Campaign for an ILO Convention (Women’s Work)”
- Caitlin Rooney: Director of economic development, Office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
- Tara Vassefi: Program Analyst, Department of Energy and Environment
- Holly Thompson: Zero Waste campaign associate, U.S. PIRG