The Environmental Odyssey of Melissa Tan: An Exclusive Interview

The Environmental Odyssey of Melissa Tan: An Exclusive Interview

In the enchanting realm of eco-conscious visionaries, Melissa Tan shines as a captivating force, effortlessly intertwining her profound love for nature with a multifaceted career that spans the worlds of media and entertainment. In this exclusive encounter, we embark on a remarkable journey through Melissa’s extraordinary life story. We delve into her origins as a “Recycle Junkie,” a title earned in her youth, and explore her transformative experiences, including a remarkable Antarctic Expedition with the esteemed marine biologist, Dr. Sylvia Earle.

With a background in acting and a passion for storytelling, Melissa brilliantly articulates her mission to weave environmental advocacy into the very fabric of our daily lives. Join us in this compelling exploration of Melissa Tan‘s unique fusion of media influence and environmental passion, where she reveals her ingenious strategies for fostering sustainability within communities and inspires us to embrace a more aspirational, eco-conscious way of living.

Melissa Tan at the Dr Sylvia Earle Antarctic Climate Expedition
During Dr. Sylvia Earle Antarctic Climate Expedition 2023

Melissa, as an environmentalist with a background in acting, could you share your journey and how you became deeply involved in both of these fields?

The story I often share traces back to my childhood. I grew up as a nature-loving kid, always concerned about animals and the environment. My affection for animals is closely tied to my love for nature because even as a young child, I grasped the concept that preserving habitats meant safeguarding the lives of these creatures. I did everything within my power to be eco-conscious. I recycled diligently and stayed updated on environmental news. It was always heart-wrenching to come across those hard-hitting headlines, yet it felt like I was just a kid, and all I could do was recycle. So, I earned the title of a “Recycle Junkie.”

Fast forward, as I grew up, I ventured into modeling, hosting, presenting, and producing. Working within the entertainment and fashion industries exposed me to intense consumerism. I, in a way, became part of the mass advertising machine, encouraging people to buy and consume more. Even as a fashion model, I would change in and out of 150 dresses in a single day. Over the years, I noticed that trends kept repeating, the items were essentially the same, and the quality continually declined. This process led to a certain desensitization towards material possessions.

Fashion Revolution Week 2022 at REXKL - Fashion Waste Installation
Fashion Revolution Week 2022 at REXKL – Fashion Waste Installation

Simultaneously, due to my contracts, I found myself living out of a suitcase for a few years, which turned out to be incredibly liberating. Embracing a minimalist lifestyle almost happened by accident. When I stumbled upon the concept of zero-waste living, it ignited a spark within me. It brought back those childhood feelings of deep environmental concern. It made me realize that caring about the environment was so significant that what I had been doing all along, like recycling, was hardly enough. In fact, it was a flawed approach from the start. I began to question, “What do you mean I can prevent waste? What do you mean I can avoid harm? What do you mean I can opt-out entirely by redefining how I live my life?” My perspective underwent a profound transformation.

This was a revelation for me, as I wondered why I hadn’t seen it earlier. It took someone introducing me to the concept of zero-waste living for me to truly grasp its significance. It felt glaringly obvious, and I questioned why I hadn’t recognized it before. It became evident that people needed their eyes opened to these ideas. I stumbled into minimalism, and someone else opened my eyes to zero-waste living.

Gradually, by adopting these two perspectives on life, I managed to untangle myself from the clutches of consumerism and relentless marketing. This is how I found a way to fuse my passion for both fields. Now, knowing the aspirational allure of social media and the world of entertainment, and being a self-proclaimed clothes enthusiast, I thought, “What if we could make environmentalism more appealing? What if it became aspirational in its own right?” We need to dispel the myth that taking responsibility for the environment means missing out or shortchanging ourselves when, in reality, it’s quite the opposite. “Less is more.” Consuming less, owning less, and freeing ourselves from consumerism truly liberates us, providing greater freedom. That’s how I united these two worlds.

How do you leverage your career in the media and your commitment to environmental advocacy to make a significant impact?

Melissa Tan collecting beach plastic waste and nets with the community

Building on the previous question, it’s about using your platform to promote a more meaningful way of life and an alternative perspective. The reality is that most platforms, including social media, are often used for advertising. Much of the content we consume, even unbranded content, tends to glorify consumerism and a certain lifestyle.

However, we can utilize these same platforms to convey a different message. It’s about living a life with purpose and disconnecting from consumerism. I firmly believe that everyone possesses influence, regardless of their role – whether they’re business owners, employees, homemakers, or kids. It’s about illustrating to people the link between their actions in their own lives, offering new ideas, broadening their horizons, and highlighting opportunities. This process slowly fosters a unique perspective and intuition that enables them to identify these opportunities for themselves.

You recently participated in an Antarctic Expedition with Dr. Sylvia Earle. Could you share your insights from this experience and how it has impacted your environmental activism?

The Antarctic Expedition was profoundly transformative for me. As someone deeply connected to terrestrial environments like forests and jungles, this journey shifted my focus to the vital role of the ocean in preserving our planet’s health and climate. It was eye-opening to be surrounded by passionate ocean conservationists, emphasizing the interconnectedness of our world. It made me realize that the solutions aren’t limited to what we’re most familiar with.

The ship of Dr Sylvia Earle Antarctic Climate Expedition 2023
Dr. Sylvia Earle Antarctic Climate Expedition 2023

The expedition reinforced the idea that it’s not about one-size-fits-all solutions. For example, many focus on planting trees as a carbon offset strategy, but this might not be the most effective approach. Ocean conservation, a part of the bigger picture, deserves more attention. While terrestrial conservation is vital, there’s already significant emphasis on it, and initiatives like reforestation and carbon offsets may not be the most efficient means of addressing climate change.

Preserving what’s already in existence is critical. Damage to the ocean, the primary climate buffer, is irreversible, unlike planting more trees. Another aspect I admired was Dr. Sylvia Earle‘s unwavering stance on ocean conservation and avoiding seafood consumption. It’s a firm, some might even say extreme, approach, leaving no room for half-measures.

She’s unapologetic about it, unlike many conversations that sugarcoat reality. Climate solutions require drastic actions, just like the shift to a plant-based lifestyle that rejects meat consumption. I appreciate the expedition’s imperfections, characterized by diverse perspectives and, at times, egos. It highlighted that even people passionate about the planet can have misalignments when working toward a common goal. Imperfections are natural, but they don’t hinder great people from achieving great things.

In the realm of climate solutions, we must understand that perfect answers rarely exist. Solutions are transitional, and constantly evolving. The Antarctic Expedition showed me that progress involves continuous improvement, even if the path is imperfect.

Melissa Tan at the Dr Sylvia Earle Antarctic Climate Expedition
Dr. Sylvia Earle Antarctic Climate Expedition 2023

You’re actively involved in various environmental initiatives. Could you share more about these projects and how they align with your vision for a more sustainable future?

My focus is primarily on community engagement because I firmly believe that effective climate action begins at home. To create true advocates who can influence change within families, workplaces, and positions of power, it’s essential to instill a personal mindset shift. Many of my projects are designed to involve people in climate solutions and change their perspective on their relationship with the environment. These initiatives include talks, environmental festivals, climate reality discussions, workshops on zero-waste living, and urban reforestation activities with the Free Tree Society.

The common thread in all of these projects is placing people at the heart of climate action. By doing so, they can bring their determination and mindset to any role they hold or may move into. You never know who might attend a community event – it could be a student or even a high-ranking executive in a large corporation. Such individuals can profoundly influence their respective spheres with a clearer, more sustainable perspective, furthering the cause of environmental change.

As an actress and environmentalist, you clearly understand the power of storytelling in raising awareness about environmental issues. Could you share specific projects or campaigns where you’ve successfully combined storytelling and environmental advocacy?

It’s widely recognized that people connect best with stories that evoke human emotions. They need relatable narratives because statistics and facts often fail to engage. The climate crisis and environmental news can be overwhelmingly negative and frightening, causing many to turn away from these emotions.

It’s more comfortable to ignore these issues and focus on other aspects of life, creating a kind of sub-reality where we can find peace. To truly connect with people, we must find points of resonance and storytelling is the ideal tool. It allows us to relate environmental concerns to elements in people’s lives that matter to them.

Whether individuals live in cities or rural areas and interact with nature daily, they may not always perceive the connection between their lives and the environment. Reminding them of their shared humanity is essential, and storytelling is the most effective approach. In fact, storytelling is integral to all aspects of my work, making it an intrinsic part of every project and campaign.

As the country coordinator of Fashion Revolution Malaysia, how do you personally define and practice sustainable fashion?

I often provide training on this topic, drawing from my own journey in zero-waste living and minimalism. I frame it as seven distinct ways to build a zero-waste wardrobe, emphasizing that you rarely need to buy new clothing because the world already holds an abundance of garments. In fact, owning fewer items can strengthen your sense of style. Rather than relying on a credit card, you’ll discover that creativity becomes your primary tool in fashion.

Sustainable fashion isn’t about consuming more; it’s about understanding what suits you best and getting creative to achieve your desired looks without buying new items. This includes practices like swapping, second-hand shopping, borrowing, restyling, shopping within your own wardrobe, embracing capsule wardrobes, and exploring so-called sustainable fashion brands.

It’s essential to note that no fashion or product is entirely sustainable, although some brands demonstrate improved practices. Even so, consuming from these “sustainable” brands should be a last resort. I use myself as an example, considering my role as a public figure who often needs to look good. I’m in entertainment, and I have a visible presence in various spaces. My aim is to show people that looking great without buying new clothing is entirely achievable. I encourage individuals to challenge themselves and set boundaries around their approach to fashion, as boundaries can be a source of inspiration, leading to more sustainable choices rather than opting for the quick fix of swiping a credit card.

Melissa, how do you incorporate sustainability into your daily life?

I lead a zero-waste lifestyle, which means I generate minimal waste. I’m committed to not purchasing new items. Moreover, I utilize my platform and my voice to influence the people around me by simply being myself. My actions and choices serve as a source of inspiration and a testament to the possibilities of sustainable living.

What’s your perspective on climate optimism as an artist and environmentalist?

Melissa Tan at the Dr Sylvia Earle Antarctic Climate Expedition
Dr. Sylvia Earle Antarctic Climate Expedition 2023

Climate optimism is a personal struggle for me, and I believe many environmentalists share this challenge. When you’re deeply involved in environmental causes, you’re constantly bombarded with grim news and stories of environmental issues. We often find ourselves immersed in discussions about negative events, which can be disheartening. The reality is that, as climate advocates and storytellers, we’re exposed to a constant stream of distressing information.

For those of us in this field, we have to work diligently to foster and maintain climate optimism. We have to find new and engaging ways to convey our message, even though it can feel like we’re saying the same thing over and over. Sometimes it’s frustrating because the change seems slow. We’re exposed to the often daunting reality of climate issues more than the general public, which can lead to climate anxiety and pessimism.

We are acutely aware of the complexities involved in shifting our course toward a more sustainable future. We understand the many layers of change required, and it can feel disheartening when we don’t see all the pieces coming together as we’d like. Unlike some who may be encouraged by surface-level green messaging, we know there’s more to the story.

To address this, we must cultivate our own climate optimism. Without it, we risk burnout and can’t contribute effectively. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded individuals and engaging in inspiring projects keeps our spirits high. Achieving positive results from our efforts feeds our souls and sustains our motivation. Despite the challenges and the world’s ongoing struggles, the sense of fulfillment from our work keeps us moving forward.

What’s your favorite Malaysian food, and does climate change affect it?

I have to say Durian is one of my favorite Malaysian foods. However, the love for Durian, not just mine but globally, is leading to deforestation and monoculture. I’ve witnessed fields being cleared to make way for durian plantations. This beloved Malaysian fruit is contributing to climate change while also being influenced by climate change in the near future.

Regarding the specific impact of climate change on durian plantations, I’m not entirely sure at the moment. What’s clear is that its cultivation is contributing to deforestation, which is a significant environmental concern.

Photo of a Durian

Being a Malaysian, tell us about a practice(s) in your culture that is actually very sustainable and good for the planet.

In Fashion Revolution Malaysia, we created a series of documentaries during Fashion Revolution Week that highlighted sustainable practices in fashion rooted in our culture but often forgotten. One notable practice is the tradition of mending and reusing our clothes, especially when it comes to making festive wear for celebrations like New Year, Hari Raya, and Chinese New Year. In the past, our mothers’ generation would have one set of clothing made new each year, often crafted by our grandmothers. These garments were treasured, passed down, and cherished for generations. While this practice isn’t unique to Malaysia, it reflects a mindset from a couple of generations ago that valued sustainability, which is sadly less common today.

Another sustainable tradition, although not as prevalent as before, is the use of tiffin carriers for food deliveries. Families would order weekday meals, and the food delivery person would transport the food in tiffin carriers containing two to three dishes. After delivering the food, they would collect the previous day’s tiffin carriers and exchange them. This practice is more common among those in landed houses because they could hang the tiffin carriers above their post boxes for easy exchange. While it’s less common now, it’s a practice we should strive to bring back and make more widespread, especially as it’s being replaced by less sustainable food delivery and takeaway options.

In your journey as an environmentalist, what are some of the major challenges you have faced, and how have you overcome them?

Photo of Melissa Tan at a Dumping site full of Plastic Waste

One of the major challenges I encountered on my journey as an environmentalist was dealing with climate anxiety and climate doomism. For a period, I grappled with these feelings, and it became challenging to stay motivated and continue my advocacy work. It often felt like a tremendous task to keep showing up. To overcome this, I realized the importance of surrounding myself with like-minded individuals and immersing myself in spaces where I could draw energy and enthusiasm from others who shared my passion. Being with people who believed just as strongly as I did helped me rekindle my own motivation.

It’s crucial for those of us who are champions of sustainability and change to remember that in mainstream society, we often stand as beacons, and we might be the only person within our social circles or workplaces who are deeply committed to reshaping processes and systems. When we constantly encounter resistance to change, science, and our messaging, we must take the time to return to spaces that replenish our souls. This renewal allows us to continue facing the broader world and work on pulling others in the same direction we’re heading.

So when you constantly face resistance to change and science and your messaging, you need to then continuously put yourself back into spaces to feed your soul again.

Are there any specific moments or accomplishments that stand out to you?

Photo of Melissa Tan at a Clothing Swap
Clothes Swap – DDY01743 – Photo by Dedy Andrianto

There have been several moments and accomplishments on my journey, although I can’t recall all of them at this moment. One standout experience was the opportunity to visit Antarctica. Initially, it seemed like an unattainable dream because I didn’t have the means to make such a journey. However, two years later, I took a chance and entered a competition. I presented myself to individuals who recognized my potential to convey their message, and I was selected.

This experience was incredibly validating for me. A lot of the work we do, both you and I, often happens behind the scenes and goes unnoticed. Yet, it can be emotionally taxing and challenging. For us to consistently operate behind the scenes, it takes a significant emotional toll. So, it was truly heartening to have our peers and those we admire acknowledge and appreciate our efforts.

What advice would you give to individuals who want to make a positive impact but are unsure of where to start?

My advice for individuals who want to make a positive impact but are unsure of where to start is this: Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just take that first step. Begin by doing something small, and then let your curiosity guide you. Explore various paths and continuously find ways to use your voice, your influence, the space you occupy, and your daily decisions to instigate change in the culture around you.

Even if it seems like a minor change, every time you make a conscious choice, you are not only transforming yourself, but you’re also becoming a role model for those around you. People notice your passion and your ability to make a difference. They will start turning to you, seeking your insights and solutions. As a result, new opportunities will naturally open up. The next time someone says, “This could be improved,” they might say, “You’re the right person to ask about this.”

Do you have an idol?

Absolutely, I admire Carolyn Lau, the current president of the Free Tree Society in Kuala Lumpur. Carolyn is a true inspiration. She’s a naturalist and landscape architect with a deep connection to the forest. Even in her late 50s, her enthusiasm for her work is boundless. Whether she’s talking about the trees in our urban forests or conducting workshops, her genuine passion for sharing her love of the natural world and educating others is infectious. What impresses me most about Carolyn is her character. She demonstrates that it’s not just the big actions that matter; it’s also how a person shows up in small and large roles. When I look at Carolyn, I see someone I aspire to be when I’m 59, still carrying that same fire, unwavering passion, and unbridled joy for the environment. She’s dedicated to bringing people along on the journey to nurture their love for our planet.

Click to find out more about Melissa Tan and find her on Instagram.

This is part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Sustainable Fashion Expo in Dubai: A Prelude to COP28 with a Dash of Festive Spirit

Sustainable Fashion Expo in Dubai: A Prelude to COP28 with a Dash of Festive Spirit

In the glitzy, ever-dazzling Dubai, where innovation and extravagance are the norm, a new kind of elegance is taking shape. Dubai is renowned for luxury and extravagance, but amidst the high-end boutiques and bustling markets, a different sort of fashion is finding its voice. The Sustainable Fashion Expo is set to grace this metropolis, where fashion isn’t just about looking good; it’s about doing good.

A Fashionable Prelude to COP28

As the Expo City in Dubai gears up for the grand Sustainable Fashion Expo, it’s not just another event – it’s a movement. Dubai, being the host of COP28, plays a significant role in shaping the global sustainability narrative. The fashion industry, with its vast reach and deep impact on the planet, must be a part of this conversation. This expo acts as a precursor to COP28, ushering fashion into the sustainability discussion. It’s a stage for the fashion community, both professionals and consumers, to discover and embrace sustainable choices. The significance is immense, as it lays the foundation for decarbonizing the industry and reducing waste. The expo positions Dubai at the forefront of fashion sustainability, where style meets responsibility.

Unveiling the Concept of Sustainable Fashion Expo

The concept of the Sustainable Fashion Expo is simple yet profound: shift the fashion paradigm to embrace sustainability. By bringing the community together under one roof, this expo aims to demonstrate that sustainable fashion is not only possible but beautiful and accessible. It’s a platform where professionals and consumers, united by a common cause, can explore sustainable choices. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, with COP28 just around the corner. This expo ensures that fashion is not left out of the conversation when it comes to decarbonizing the industry and reducing waste.

An Array of Engaging Experiences

Visitors to the Sustainable Fashion Expo can look forward to a packed schedule of events that offer a deep dive into the world of sustainable fashion. From insightful panels that dissect the issues and challenges to interactive workshops that allow you to learn and participate actively, there’s something for everyone. But that’s just the beginning. The expo boasts an extensive area where you can explore brands that prioritize the planet and its people. It’s a journey to discover products that are more than just fashionable; they are statements of conscious consumerism. The highlight of the event is undoubtedly the sustainable fashion catwalk. It’s not just about showcasing the latest styles; it’s a declaration that fashion can be both trendy and sustainable.

Engaging Activity in Sustainable Fashion Expo in Dubai

Designing Change with Graphic Tees

One of the standout features of this event is the competition to design the best graphic tee with sustainability messages. Sustainability has many facets, and this competition allows participants to express their passions. Each design has a unique message that contributes to a more sustainable future. It’s a reminder that the journey towards sustainability is a canvas, and everyone has a unique brushstroke to add.

Pioneering Sustainability in the Middle East

The Sustainable Fashion Expo has a noble mission – to become the Middle East’s hub for innovation and education in sustainable fashion. It aspires to catalyze the change that the fashion industry desperately needs. This isn’t just about hosting an annual event; it’s about nurturing the designers and brands that are pioneering and bringing palpable change to the fashion scene.

Key Partners and Collaborators of Sustainable Fashion Expo

No event of this scale is possible without strong partnerships and collaborations. The Sustainable Fashion Expo is fortunate to have partners who share its vision and mission. The University of Wollongong provides not only a dynamic venue but also education in sustainability. It’s a space where academic knowledge merges seamlessly with practical applications. Sustainability is not just a concept; it’s a way of life.

Fashion Revolution, a global not-for-profit organization, is one of the pillars of support. With chapters around the world, it has been relentlessly addressing the issues in the fashion industry. The UAE chapter is one of the strongest in the region, working closely with universities and schools to educate the public through a series of events and initiatives.

Goshopia, another prominent partner, is the biggest online marketplace working solely with slow, sustainable, and socially responsible brands. It’s pioneering the art of making sustainable fashion both accessible and stylish.

The Sustainable Souk, renowned for its ability to create communities around eco-friendly events, has lent its expertise in managing and coordinating this expo. It takes more than just good intentions to create an event of this magnitude; it requires skill, expertise, and a deep commitment to sustainability.

The event has also received support from influential individuals like Sonya Vajifdar and various media publications. Media plays a pivotal role in amplifying the message and reaching a broader audience with the right information and options. The Sustainable Fashion Expo has a powerful ensemble backing it, and together, they’re crafting a narrative of change.

Festive spirit of Sustainable Fashion Expo in Dubai

Changing the Fashion Landscape

Consumer demand plays a pivotal role in changing the fashion industry. As the tagline goes, “The Fashion industry will only change if we, as consumers, demand that change.” Brands listen to consumers. If consumers demand sustainable choices, the industry will follow. It’s a reminder that while the fashion industry has immense power, consumers have the ultimate say. It’s not just about creating beautiful clothing; it’s about creating a beautiful future. And this future begins with the choices we make.

An Expo with Festive Spirit

As we gear up for the festive seasons of Diwali and Christmas, it’s essential to remember that these are some of the most shopping-intensive times of the year. The Sustainable Fashion Expo has a message that aligns perfectly with the spirit of these festive seasons. It’s about choosing gifts that have a beautiful story behind them, not just something random from a quick stop at a mall.

The Sustainable Fashion Expo is the perfect place to find thoughtful, handcrafted presents. It’s about pieces crafted by skilled artisans and dedicated designers. The supply chains here are short. You know who is doing the work, understand the inspiration behind the creations, and know how their lives would be impacted if their income were to disappear. It’s a conscious choice, a statement of support for those who dare to be different in a world of mass-produced conformity.

When we were looking for a name for the event, one of the options was the Sustainable Fashion Festival. The objective was clear – to make it a celebration of what has been achieved so far. The name might have changed, but the spirit remains. It’s a celebration of all the people and brands who have dared to make a difference. The celebration goes beyond just fashion; it’s about music, live performances, and activities for the whole family.

Be Part of the Change

The Sustainable Fashion Expo invites you to be part of the change. Your support matters, and in the world of sustainability, every effort counts. If you can’t make it to the region, spread the word. It’s all about creating awareness and starting conversations. In sustainability, we often say, “It is better to have 1 million people doing sustainability imperfectly than 100 people going all the way.” This is a numbers game. If you are not in the region, share with your friends and family. It helps open up conversations and bring awareness.

Team Sustainable Fashion Expo in Dubai

Join the Conversation with the Sustainable Fashion Expo

Stay connected with the Sustainable Fashion Expo and its partners:

Visit their website at www.sustainablefashionexpo.com to learn more about this pioneering event.

As we countdown to COP28 and the festive seasons of Diwali and Christmas, the Sustainable Fashion Expo reminds us that the change we seek begins with us. It’s where fashion meets sustainability, and the world changes for the better.

From Discounts to Detriments: Holiday Influence of Fast Fashion and Remedies

From Discounts to Detriments: Holiday Influence of Fast Fashion and Remedies

Adding to a cart is one of the most fulfilling clicks in most of our lives. Especially when there is a 70% off sale on Shein, and with Black Friday coming up in a few short weeks, fashion brands like H&M and Zara will be sure to give the people what they want – clearance sales, and major discounts. The holiday season means new outfits to buy, and matching family sweaters to seek out – clothes have always been such a primal part of the celebration, but also everyday life.  

But how often do we really stop to think before clicking “Add to Cart?” Serious questions like – how is this brand offering such a huge percentage off for the holiday season and still making profits? If they are not making profits, then why are they running their business? If they are making profits even after those significant discounts, how cheap are these clothes? What is the secret behind such low prices of these clothes – are the materials used in these clothes cheap or low-quality? If these materials are below quality, how long will we be able to use them – is it a good investment? What will happen to these clothes made from low-quality materials after we won’t be able to use them anymore? If the materials are not low-quality, then how come the prices are so cheap? If you are someone who thinks these are serious or at least interesting questions to be asked, then you are in the right place. It’s time to learn about fast fashion before clicking “Add to Cart” this holiday season. So, buckle up and brace yourself. 

A girl struggling with her piles of excessive clothing in her closet

What is fast fashion? 

Fast fashion is a phenomenon that has been noticed over the past 30 years, one that spread globally and quickly. According to the UN, fast fashion is a business model “of quick turnover, high volume, and cheap prices.” It is basically where fashion brands – to keep up with current trends and styles – mass produce their items at a low manufacturing cost to supply high demand. Fast fashion has been a booming industry since the late 1900s and the early 2000s, and these retailers include Zara, H&M, and Shein.  

What customers usually notice is that clothing items in fast fashion brands are relatively cheap, with a magnitude of vast options.  

Why does fast fashion exist? 

Shopping for clothes was once considered an event. This means that people would save up throughout the year and purchase new clothes at specific times. Style-conscious people would be well aware of the latest trends and designs through the fashion shows that showcased clothing pieces months before they were available in stores. People were used to shopping for clothes once or twice per year, in the regard that it was an occasion. 

However, in the late 1900s, that began to change. Shopping quickly changed into a form of entertainment and leisure, which consequently meant that people bought clothes more often, at a higher pace. This was what set off the concept of fast fashion – retailers could mass-produce clothing pieces at low prices, which made consumers feel they were up to date with the latest trends in real time. Fast fashion items were never made with the intention of lasting multiple years or wears – its goal was to manufacture cost-effective clothing directly satisfying the shifting demands of the consumer.  

A woman looking at a store showing their items on sale

The fashion industry is one of the largest working industries globally, with a value of 2.5 trillion dollars, providing employment for over 75 million people worldwide, as stated by UNECE. In theory, and from pure definition, fast fashion sounds harmless – a company is mass-producing clothes, for a cheaper price, which people can afford. If anything, this can be seen as a strategy that grants people easier access to clothes due to their affordable price. However, the consequences of fast fashion are ones that aren’t easy to notice, but hard to ignore. Fast fashion directly contributes to waste colonialism and exploitive labor practices – which consumers are unaware of during their purchases.  

How does fast fashion negatively affect the environment? 

Alright, so what about clothes during the holiday season? According to USA Facts, clothing, and accessory retailers have the highest jumps in sales during the holiday season. Statista found that in 2022 47% of Gen Z purchased new fashion items for themselves to wear on Christmas, while Millennials were at an astounding 50%. This shows that there is a high intent for purchase and paired with the high discounts available in fast-fashion brands, it explains why people tend to buy more new clothes during the holiday season. Since fast fashion utilizes low-quality fabrics, that means the clothes purchased during the holiday season would have a life span of only a few months – and when that life span is over, people do what they always do when something has served its purpose – they throw it away.  

A poster that says 'the cost of fast fashion'

Fast fashion relies on a business model that depends on “recurring consumption and impulse buying, instilling a sense of urgency when purchasing.” This business model has clearly succeeded, with global consumption rising to 62 million tons of apparel per year, and by 2030, it is expected to reach 102 million tons.  

Fast Fashion’s Global Impact 

The Ellen Macarthur Foundation – a UNEP partner – estimates that a truckload of abandoned textiles is discharged into landfills or incinerated every second. This is why it is estimated that people are buying 60% more clothes and wearing them for half as long. According to The Business Insider, 85% of all textiles go to dumps every year. The textiles in landfills have the capacity to contaminate soil. Countries such as Uganda, with high rates of agriculture and farmers, export contaminated food and resources to other countries. This can lead to major health risks and dangers, alongside negative side effects to animals and plants in their ecosystems.  

This means that fast fashion contributes directly to waste colonialism. Most fast fashion exports are from developing countries across Asia, including India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Cambodia etc. This means that the Global South is not only the one with the highest production of fast fashion but is also the one that suffers its consequences the most after it gets thrown out. The BBC reported in 2022 that more than half of the clothes imported to Chile end up in the Atacama Desert. On Jamestown Beach, located in Accra – Ghana’s capital – you must walk between mountains of shoes, pants, and tattered t-shirts. These used textiles come from Western countries and Asia to be dumped and dealt with in Ghana. 

At the fishing port of Accra, the Ghanaian capital, on February 19, 2023. The beach is littered with used clothes from industrialized countries that arrive there every week. 
At the fishing port of Accra, the Ghanaian capital, on February 19, 2023. The beach is littered with used clothes from industrialized countries that arrive there every week. JEAN-FRANÇOIS FORT / HANS LUCAS

These discharged textiles contribute to microplastics found in the water, which can then affect marine food chains – which means that the Ghanaian people eat contaminated fish. Discharged textiles are often brought into the Global South without warning, leaving them to deal with methods to get rid of these clothes. Because the quality is so low, merchandisers can’t even sell discharged textiles – therefore, it is another burden of waste that they are responsible for getting rid of, or facing the consequences it brings – most of the time, it is both. 

Fast Fashion and Climate Change 

Besides the littering and waste of fast fashion, it directly affects global warming. Producing clothes requires natural resources, which emit greenhouse gases. According to the UN, the fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of global emissions, surpassing aviation and shipping industries combined. The World Bank suggests that global clothing sales are to increase to 65% by 2030. A higher percentage in global sales indicates more discharged textiles to deal with – putting even more pressure on the Global South to manage the waste provided by the Global North.  

Consumer Awareness 

Some may argue that the average consumer isn’t aware of the negative connotations that come with fast fashion. According to Nayab Sohail, a Pakistani Slow Fashion ambassador, consumers must be educated about the issues fast fashion causes. Once consumers are educated on the link between fast fashion and climate change, that would allow for a change in their approach towards fast fashion.  Merlina Carolina, the Global Creative Lead of the Slow Fashion Movement and founder of Slow Fashion El Salvador, believes that the average consumer is “so caught up in routine and system that they probably don’t have the energy to question or consciously think about how the environment works.” 

Conscious consumers

Others argue that consumers are aware – to a small degree – of the link between fast fashion and the environment. Grace Kemp, another ambassador of the Slow Fashion Movement, believes that a “majority of people” are aware of the impact fast fashion has on the environment. Kemp claims that because of the sudden uprise of “green” campaigns in recent years, this must correlate to the level of awareness existing amongst consumers.  

How can you reduce your fashion footprint? 

Kemp mentioned how people might be aware of the negative link between fast fashion and the environment; however, they feel as though “it is too big for them to be able to do anything, so they carry on.” The typical solution to fast fashion has always been slow fashion. But slow fashion brands are usually expensive – the biggest disadvantage that fast fashion solves.  

Even then, there are solutions to fast fashion that don’t necessarily have to break the bank. Karen James Welton, a slow fashion stylist, advises to wear what you own. Purchasing clothing pieces for the sake of a current, temporary trend usually means it won’t be worn again. Welton also advises shopping vintage and second-hand. Swapping clothes with your family members and friends, or borrowing clothes isn’t shameful in any way – it is a direct solution to make sure you aren’t buying too many clothes. Kristīne Čeirāne, an ambassador’s coordinator of the Slow Fashion Movement, says, “The most sustainable wardrobe is the one people already have. Look after your clothes and wear them for as long as you can. The greenest purchase is the one you didn’t make.” Welton also recommends that for new purchases, you save up for investment pieces that you will be able to wear for years. Timeless, classic pieces that will always look good regardless of the current trend going around.  

A girl wearing a green dress dancing in a lush green field

A Joint Effort for a Sustainable Future 

The solution to fast fashion isn’t reserved for individual consumers only. The UN initiated the #ActNow Fashion Challenge, which aims to show individuals and industries how to improve the environmental impact that fashion leaves. Limiting and decreasing the carbon footprint that the fashion industry leaves is a key factor in reducing global warming, which is why NGOs have pointed out fast fashion’s harmful business model. Greenpeace and other groups have urged the sector to slow down the trend of mass-producing clothes that are thrown away so quickly. In COP-27 in Egypt, the fashion sector did promise a net-zero carbon footprint, but giant clothing retailers still struggle to manage their own emissions, considering the high demand for fast fashion now.  

It is essential that there is a joint effort – between the consumer and the industry – to work towards a less wasteful, more sustainable style of fashion. Looking good and trendy shouldn’t have to come at the cost of the environment. There is work towards sustainable fashion, and as long as there is work, there is always a way.  

The holiday season doesn’t need to be ugly for everybody. You can still look wonderful in the clothes you have – maybe styling it differently will give it a new look! Remember the consequences of clicking “Add to Cart” from a fast fashion brand – no one should spend their holiday season struggling through mountains of discharged clothes for the sake of fashion. 

Kibera Fashion Week: Redefining Sustainable Fashion from the Heart of Africa

Kibera Fashion Week: Redefining Sustainable Fashion from the Heart of Africa

In the heart of Nairobi, Kenya, a transformational fashion event is on the horizon, one that promises to challenge the very essence of the industry. Kibera Fashion Week, scheduled for October 14, 2023, is not just another typical fashion extravaganza; it’s a profound narrative of sustainability, community empowerment, and a refreshing perspective on the art of fashion.

Kibera: More Than Meets the Eye

Often depicted as a place of despair in need of help, Kibera is far from a one-dimensional story. It’s a bustling metropolis, a cradle of creativity, constantly evolving and innovating. It’s within this vibrant community that Kibera Fashion Week finds its roots, challenging the neo-colonial realities of the fashion industry.

The organizers of the Kibera Fashion Week, expressed their vision, “Kibera Fashion Week envisions a future where fashion transcends borders and becomes a unifying force for positive change. It aims to create a global fashion ecosystem that celebrates diversity, empowers local talent, and challenges the conventional norms of the fashion industry.”

With 11 designers set to grace the runway, Kibera Fashion Week stretches far beyond a one-night event. It is, in fact, a year-long program with a mission to fundamentally reshape the narratives and dynamics within the fashion world.

A Fashion Revolution with a Heart

The organizers of Kibera Fashion Week share a collective vision – to redefine how the world celebrates its heroes. In Kibera, they’ve found everyday heroes, individuals who’ve risen from the depths of unemployment, homelessness, and adversity. These heroes have not just overcome their challenges; they’ve become role models for the youth in their community.

Kibera Fashion Week breathes life into this vision, using the power of arts and creativity to challenge the notion that only certain professions are worthy of applause. It’s a platform where the legitimacy of artisanal work, tailoring, and craftsmanship is celebrated. These vocations provide not only sustainability but also hope, guiding the younger generation towards more meaningful pursuits.

Kibera Fashion Week Team

The Impact of Kibera Fashion Week on the Local Community

Since its inaugural show in November 2022, Kibera Fashion Week has left a significant impact on individuals and groups within the community. It’s not just about fashion; it’s about transformation and empowerment.

Emerging designers like Moom Jay Designs kicked off their journey at the November 2022 event. Today, they’ve evolved into established fashion brands, contributing substantially to the growth of the local fashion scene.

But it’s not just designers who’ve been touched by the magic of Kibera Fashion Week. The event has actively collaborated with local artisans and craftsmen, giving rise to a unique fashion experience that spans fashion accessories and garments. Victorious Crafts, talented jewelry designers from Kibera, now have a sustainable source of income and a means to preserve their traditional crafts and livelihoods.

The local models and performers have also thrived, gaining exposure and opportunities in the entertainment and modeling industries. Beyond the runway, the event’s various activities, including runway shows, exhibitions, and workshops, have had a positive economic ripple effect throughout Kibera. Local businesses, including food vendors and artisans, have experienced increased foot traffic during the event, translating into tangible economic benefits for the community.

Sustainability at the Heart of Kibera Fashion Week

Sustainability is not just a buzzword for Kibera Fashion Week; it’s a way of life. The event’s commitment to sustainability is evident in every facet of its planning and execution.

  • Sustainable sourcing and fabric maximization: Designers are encouraged to champion sustainable, locally sourced materials for their collections, minimizing the carbon footprint associated with sourcing materials from distant locations. Textile waste is minimized through efficient patternmaking and the innovative reuse of materials.
  • Ethical production: A strong emphasis is placed on ethical production practices, ensuring fair labor conditions and equitable wages for artisans and workers engaged in crafting fashion collections.
  • Community engagement: Kibera Fashion Week forges vital connections with the local Kibera community through strategic partnerships with organizations and skilled artisans, fostering social inclusion and presenting valuable economic opportunities for community members.
  • Education and awareness: The event serves as an educational hub, hosting workshops, panel discussions, and exhibitions that encourage conversations on sustainability, inclusivity, and ethical fashion practices.
  • Spotlight on local talent: Kibera Fashion Week passionately prioritizes local talent, spanning models, performers, and designers, nurturing the growth of the local fashion industry.

Designers: The Heartbeat of Kibera Fashion Week

Let’s hear from the designers themselves, each with a unique story and vision:

“I am passionate about transforming the ordinary into extraordinary. My journey is all about giving new life to thrifted garments and crafting them into beautiful designs that radiate uniqueness.”

Millicent Adhiambo Oluoch, Simply Milly

“The brand saw opportunity in involving raw bones and horns as unique resources that could solve the lack of our region’s identity in designs and again using it as locally sourced raw materials to represent the region’s creations to the global platform.”

Jack Nyawanga, Victorious Bone Craft

“The more my outfits are seen and appreciated, the more bamboo is known more in my country. Bamboo as a sustainable, resilient, and hardy grass is very beneficial in carbon sequestration which is an important process in cleaning the atmosphere.”

Dan Otieno (Ottydann), The Bamboo Man

“Our brand creates employment for unemployed members of the Society.”

Mary Akinyi, Emaryan Designs

“As creatives working together, we realized that there was a need to reflect on how the industry we were in impacted our environment.”

Mariah Kwamboka, Bokka

“We wanted to create something unique that could represent different cultures in Africa globally and create job opportunities for youths living in Kibera.”

Joseph Ganda, Bolla Footwear Designer

“We made a collective choice to join forces as partners and as a community, aiming to redefine how we celebrate and recognize our true heroes.”

Beth Kariuki, Lina Yarn

The Beauty of Upcycling

Many designers at Kibera Fashion Week are embracing upcycling, a practice that breathes new life into old materials. Millicent Adhiambo Oluoch, founder of Simply Milly, is passionate about upcycling. She skillfully reimagines thrifted garments into fashionable pieces, minimizing waste and demonstrating the beauty of sustainability.

Unique Materials for Unique Designs

Jack Nyawanga, founder of Victorious Bone Craft, takes a different route with his brand. He uses raw bones, horns, and metal to create unique designs such as costumes and jewelry. He believes that using locally sourced materials can represent the region’s creativity on a global platform.

Photo by Kibera Fashion Week

Fashion with a Positive Impact

Joseph Ganda, founder of Bolla Footwear Designer, saw an opportunity to create fashionable shoes while simultaneously reducing waste. His brand repurposes old clothes, used car tires, and waste materials from local tailors into distinctive, stylish footwear. Ganda’s goal is to create job opportunities for the youth living in Kibera.

Championing Sustainability in Fashion

Kibera Fashion Week isn’t just an event; it’s a movement aimed at transforming the fashion industry. It places a strong emphasis on sustainability, ethical production practices, and inclusivity. Through workshops, panel discussions, and exhibitions, designers, participants, and attendees gain valuable insights into sustainable fashion practices.

By spotlighting local talent, fostering economic growth, and promoting social empowerment, Kibera Fashion Week challenges the status quo of the fashion industry. It sends a powerful message that fashion excellence and innovation can emerge from unexpected places.

Photo by Kibera Fashion Week

A Vision for the Future

As Kibera Fashion Week approaches, these designers are not just focused on the runway. Their vision extends beyond the event itself. They aspire to expand the use of sustainable materials and practices, advocate for ethical production, and create job opportunities within their communities.

Together, they hope to change the way we view fashion and demonstrate that sustainability is not just a buzzword but a way of life. They encourage consumers to buy consciously, promote sustainable brands, and actively contribute to a cleaner, greener world.

Kibera Fashion Week is proof that fashion can be a force for good, a platform for change, and a symbol of hope. It’s an event that transcends traditional runway shows, inviting us all to be part of a movement towards a more sustainable and inclusive fashion industry. As Beth Kariuki from Lina Yarn aptly puts it, “We only have one world to live in, let’s keep it clean and green for our next generation to come.”

So, mark your calendars for October 14, 2023, as Kibera Fashion Week promises to take you on a journey where sustainability meets style, and fashion becomes a catalyst for positive change.

The project is initiated by David Avido (Lookslike Avido / Avido Foundation) in collaboration with Goethe-Institut, Nairobi Design Week, Maasai Mbili and EUNIC Kenya. The project is funded as part of the European Spaces of Culture.

For more information, visit the website of Kibera Fashion Week.

Anne Therese Gennari and Monica Richards Unite for Sustainability: The Counts in Climate Corporate Workshop

Anne Therese Gennari and Monica Richards Unite for Sustainability: The Counts in Climate Corporate Workshop

In the heart of New York City, where the concrete jungle meets the green revolution, two visionaries are teaming up to catalyze a corporate sustainability movement. Anne Therese Gennari, renowned as ‘The Climate Optimist,’ and Monica Richards, the dynamic ‘Ecobabe,’ have embarked on a mission to redefine corporate responsibility through their innovative Counts in Climate workshop. This transformative initiative is poised to equip companies with the tools, mindset, and passion required to make sustainability a core part of their ethos.

As we journey through this exclusive interview, we uncover the extraordinary stories of Anne and Monica, delve deep into the ‘Counts in Climate’ workshop, and explore the profound impact of climate optimism. Join us in this unique narrative as we witness how these two exceptional individuals are igniting a sustainability revolution, one company at a time.

Monica Richards & Anne Therese Gennari

Anne, you are surely an all-rounder when it comes to sustainable living, climate optimism, and action. Could you please tell us your backstory? From where did it all start?

Anne: I wish I could tell you this one moment when it all began for me but honestly, I think I’ve been dedicated to work for the planet my whole life. Thinking back at my childhood I remember days spent outdoors and I learned early on how to respect and care for nature. However, I do have what I call my “climate optimist awakening” which I also talk about in my book. I was in my early twenties and had so far tried to change the world, so to speak, from a place of anger and despair. I thought that if only I could make other people as angry and concerned as I was, surely they would join me in wanting to make a change.

Anne Therese Gennari

But when I found myself on the floor of my parent’s guest room, crying over a silly conversation with my brother at the dinner table and feeling like no one in the world but I cared, I had my awakening. What came to me was that I was doing it all wrong and that if I wanted to truly have an impact on the world, I needed to change my ways moving forward. I received my mission as a climate optimist that night and what followed was a decade of understanding just what living life as a climate optimist means.

Monica, as a media personality who is also an environmentalist, could you tell us your backstory? How did you become passionate about both fields?

Monica: I became passionate about environmentalism before I knew it had even been termed, as I was raised on a small farm in South West Michigan. There, my chores included collecting chicken eggs, tending to our gardens and fruit trees, and caring for our animals. From a very young age, I experienced how humankind is nature. And that pillar of life has always stayed by my side. I’m blessed in that my upbringing funded Earth as my biggest interest, investment, and asset. It’s the thread of everything I do in life! 

Photo of Monica Richards as a kid
Photo Credit: Jean Richards (Mother of Monica Richard)

Media-wise, I also started modeling at a young age, which developed comfort and a love for being in front of the camera. After graduating in interior design and working in the UK and LA, I pivoted and returned to media as a TV Host, starting with hosting classes and then, reporting on red carpets, press junkets, and for an online news show. From there, I tucked back into my roots and founded Ecobabe, a lifestyle brand that marries environmentalism and media together to make sustainable living second nature with credence that what we do matters.

Anne, you are known as ‘The Climate Optimist’. Could you please tell us in your own words what Climate Optimism means to you and why we all need to be climate optimists?

Anne: Absolutely! And this right here is what it took me all those years to figure out. In the beginning, I thought that if I could only ignore the negative climate news and focus passionately on the few but very inspiring pieces of good news out there, I could lead with light and invite others to join in on this journey. But then, in a couple of years, I experienced climate anxiety more intensely than I ever had before, I knew something wasn’t quite right.

What I learned was that the body is always paying attention and even if you try to close your eyes or look the other way, your subconscious is picking up the clues and storing it for another day. Then one day when you least expect it, those feelings of anxiety and fear will come crashing down, and completely unguarded, you find yourself breaking apart. 

I broke apart many times during those early days as a climate optimist and I started to feel more and more like a fake, like this mission of mine was built on dreams and wishful thinking. But then Paul Hawken’s Drawdown was released and for the first time, there was real scientific evidence that what I wanted to believe so badly – that we can reverse global warming – was possible! It reignited me to keep trying but I also understood that relying on this outside source of reassurance wasn’t sustainable, not in a world that’s filled with so much doom. So I began the work of figuring out what a grounded and sustainable life as a climate optimist would look like and I learned pretty quickly that it starts with you. To be and remain an optimist, you must create that optimism for yourself, but in doing so you not only fuel your optimism engine, you are what is making a better world possible.

My book, The Climate Optimist Handbook, is a guide on how to become that resilient change maker and the book I wish I had alongside me all those years. I hope to help people build emotional resilience and recognize the greatness of the times we’re living through. We are the change and to fully recognize that is an incredibly beautiful thing!

The climate optimist handbook

Shifting gears, Monica, let’s talk about climate optimism. How do you define climate optimism?

Monica: Climate Optimism is to view climate change – and act – from a place of opportunity and hope, not responsibility and fear. Hopefully, Anne will be proud of my answer. *smiles*

Monica, how do you integrate your career in media and environmental advocacy to create an impact?

Monica: For me, TV and media hosting is a form of education and I sincerely love raising awareness in this way! My favorite job in the world is using my voice to spread the truth. So, I consistently used my skills – talking – to create environmental advocacy. In fact, I’ve recently launched the Ecobabe 101 series: a weekly video where I share my key tips and tricks for taking the gray areas out of sustainable living. I also believe the way we communicate sustainability goals, climate, and social equality is essential to making a collective difference. So, I’ve really worked hard to be able to choose my words wisely from a neutral place that bridges extreme viewpoints while translating them from scientific jargon to language we all (including me!) can understand. I believe that’s how we can most efficiently activate people to start making a difference on their own. Because once you’re informed, you’re empowered. And once you’re empowered, you want to take action. And luckily, my host training has really supported this side of my environmental advocacy.

Photo Credit: Better Earth Solar

We are so used to learning about terrible news related to climate change and nature, almost every day. It seems like the mainstream media either focuses on climate change as ‘just another weather update’ or does not focus on it at all. Most people either tend to avoid such updates or they tend to give in to climate doomism.

So, Anne, what do you think is needed to shift our focus from these to become climate optimists?

Anne: I couldn’t agree more and that right here is what the problem stems from. It’s how we talk about climate change and more specifically – what we leave out. If people keep learning how climate change is affecting our world but the article lacks to offer ways that they can get involved, or at least deliver examples of solutions already on their way, a feeling of overwhelm will seep in. As a reader and individual, you should be aware of this so that you can intentionally limit your negative intake (no you don’t have to read every climate article) while also making sure you actively seek out positive news too. Furthermore, find ways to get involved in climate action in an area that interests and ignites you. Participating in the change is the foundation of being a climate optimist.

Anne Therese Gennari

When it comes to the media outlets I think they need to become aware of how big of a part they actually play in our chances of getting this right. They may think they’re innocently covering the “truth,” but the truth is that they are constantly comparing data and seeing what kind of headlines get the most clicks. And sadly enough, doomsday messaging will always win the prize! Ironically enough, consuming negative news releases dopamine, hence making us “addicted” to a negative news cycle. But I believe that we can play the click-bait game and also weave in some empowering optimism. This kind of grounded optimism, as I like to call it, leads with sharing some alarming facts but then makes sure to also include ways of how we can make it better. It’s time the media starts using their power to ignite people, instead of just alarming and overwhelming them.

Monica, can you tell us a bit about why you felt the need to start the journey of purpose-driven entrepreneurship?

Monica: Throughout my journey from living off country land to adjusting to bright city lights, I’ve seen a huge gap in society’s connection with nature and with one another. I am certain that bridging this gap is the passe-partout (the master key) to unlocking climate change solutions. So, I established my North Star: to connect people with nature, and with one another, to support the healing of our Earth and all who reside here. From hosting opportunities and consulting projects to ecobabe products and brand collaborations, I always follow my North Star – to help support in bridging that gap.

Throughout your journey what are some of the most significant challenges you’ve encountered and how have you overcome them to continue advocating for climate optimism and sustainable change?

Anne: Oh, there are so many… But what comes to me right now is the constant challenge in believing that I can make a difference, that what I’m doing is enough, and that we do have a chance at actually getting this right. As mentioned earlier, your optimism will quickly fall flat unless you actively work to keep it alive but it can be hard to keep showing up for that work if you don’t think it actually matters.

That is why I’ve developed some guidelines that I come back to on those more difficult days and I share them all in my book. I have reminders of why our individual actions matter (they mean anxiety, building character, shifting norms and culture, and planting seeds) as well as how to think about this “work” as a journey that we’re traveling together. When viewed this way, it’s easier to accept the hard days as well as the times when we need to slow down and take a break. I keep reminding myself that this movement is only as sustainable as we are and that we’re not alone in this work. Finding community and sticking to what I believe is possible, no matter how silly and impossible it may seem at the moment, is what fuels my optimism and keeps me going.

Monica: It’s important to remember the high level of evolution to which one’s brand and oneself can be capable. And to be honest, I’m still sorting out which of my services will stick. One of my biggest challenges is my creativity. I’m an IDEAS girl. So, focus and refinement have been monumental in my evolution, both as an individual and a brand. I do this by going into inner space; a place where I am quiet and still and can ask myself where I truly want to focus, what will most resonate with my community, and what will bring the most joy. By refining with this lens, it allows you to keep evolving, flowing, and letting go of old ideas, services, and stories that will no longer serve you. 

Because I’m a solopreneur of sorts, time is a constant challenge for me. There are so many tasks and projects I’d love to get done in a day, to make the most impact as possible. But oftentimes, all those to-do’s aren’t possible at all. So, I’ve become a pro at priority! Where I once would complete the tasks most inspiring to me that day, I now dive into what must be completed first. Sounds like common sense, but if you’re creative, you surely know the struggle! I also received the best productivity advice I’ve ever been given by a dear friend in LA: complete one non-work related task per day. Whether that’s laundry, food prep, paying bills, getting a massage, etc… this ‘one extra’ method keeps your life more organized and your person feeling more productive overall!

Last but not least, I’ve experienced massive intensity in the climate space. The intensity is essential, but the delivery can oftentimes be more harmful than not. I am challenged with these extremes constantly, where I have good days and can brush it off and where I have bad days and call Anne! I’ve handled these intensities, where blaming, shaming and separations lie, in two ways: 

1) I know that every person and every idea counts in climate. We need everyone on board, no matter how they choose to advocate or activate. We need union! Therefore, I stay true to myself, and to my truth, and to how I choose to advocate, no matter what anyone else says. I choose to remain fiercely loyal to myself. And it definitely helps to align with a friend where you both truly listen and support one another. 

And 2) I stay in the ascension attitudes of praise, hope, gratitude, love, and trust. When you adjust your perspective to arrive from these attitudes, your reality will instantly change. From that new reality, I’m able to stay grounded, happy, and humble and can therefore create a long-lasting impact. I highly recommend you try it!

Let’s discuss your collaboration on the Counts in Climate corporate workshop. What motivated you to develop this workshop together?

Photo Credit: Starky Morillo

Anne: Monica and I have both been hosting workshops on sustainability and climate optimism for a while and we decided that it would be so fun and empowering to merge the two and start pitching something together. We’ve also been hosting workshops mainly online and this one we aim to do in person as much as we can. We believe there to be a great deal of untapped potential when it comes to enacting positive climate change inside companies. When you ignite their employees to not only believe something can be done from within the company but actually create a culture that encourages creativity and excitement, we believe that BIG stuff can be made. And let’s face it, companies “run” the world today and we DO need them. Imagine the impact when we activate those companies from within and make them powerful climate forces to be reckoned with!

Monica: When we heard that 50% of employees are currently considering quitting their jobs due to a lack of alignment with their values (data by Kite Insights), Anne and I sprung into action! We had been hosting corporate workshops on climate optimism and sustainable living separately and knew we could make a deeper impact by joining forces. So that’s what we did! 

Approximately 70% of the total emission reductions needed to avoid dangerous climate change lie in the hands of government, utilities, and businesses (data by Drawdown Labs). Our Counts in Climate Workshop integrates climate into company culture by teaching climate optimism and sustainable living to every business’s greatest asset – their employees! We aim to shift the overall mindset and yield purpose and agency in climate from within, no matter where a company stands on the sustainability spectrum. Can you imagine the possibility for positive change throughout a company’s processes, products, and output if its employees are educated, inspired, and activated in climate? It’s for this reason, as mentioned above, that every job counts in climate. And we’re here to prove it.

While the Counts in Climate corporate workshop is only available for businesses in New York City, such a valuable workshop is really needed for businesses from all around our planet. Do you have any plans to make that happen in the future?

Monica: You have read our minds! We would be over the moon to take our workshop on the road, as long as the travel method and stays are as sustainable as possible! 

What advice would you give to individuals who want to make a positive impact but are unsure of where to start?

Anne: I always say this – start by slowing down. Yes, we need to activate and accelerate right now and do all we can (as fast as we can) to make a shift to a sustainable and net-zero or net-positive future. However, we can only make that reality come true if we act from a place of clarity and intentionality. That requires slowing down so that we can create space in our busy minds to reflect and think again. It’ll take a lot of courage to change our way of thinking  – about life, society, the world – and that courage can only grow if we take a moment to just breathe. 

So start there. Find ways to implement a bit more slow time in your day, if that means taking yourself to a park bench for 20 minutes to just jot some thoughts on a piece of paper. Dare to be still! And then, ask yourself: what is one thing I can do right now? One simple switch in my daily routine that would allow me to live with a smaller (negative) footprint? After you pick one, choose to go about that mission with passion. Fuel excitement into what you do and recognize that by adopting this new habit and mindset, you’re part of fueling the revolution! (And if you want tips and mindset tools of how to continue on that empowering journey, I guess I have to plug my book…)

Anne Therese Gennari

Should you struggle with picking something to get going with, I’ll give you composting as an example. To me, it’s one of the most rewarding climate actions and a simple way of significantly reducing your carbon footprint while at the same time increasing your positive footprint. By composting, you not only remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere but you also enrich the soil, hence enabling it to grow better foods, hold more water, and sequester more carbon. A win in so many ways!

Monica: The vastness of sustainability is one of the most difficult parts of this movement, as everything we touch (literally!) is connected to climate. Every single action we take as humans has an output that affects our planet. But vastness is also the best part; because this gives you the opportunity to pick your passion. Meaning, pick what you’re most interested in (think fashion, animals, beauty, food, oceans, etc.) and start there. Start making eco swaps, research bit by bit, and follow educators on social media, share this information organically with your community, sign petitions, and call Congress to request support for bills, and start integrating this part – your passion! – of sustainability in your daily life. You’ll be surprised by how much wisdom you acquire and how much impact you can make when you start from a perspective of focus, just like this.

Now, if you’d like to make a positive impact specifically throughout the home, go from micro to macro. Begin inside the home and make eco swaps room by room, not starting the next room until you’ve mastered the first. Then, graduate to bigger pieces of sustainable living like rainwater collection, composting, green energy, cleaner transportation, community tree planting, and so on and so forth. By integrating sustainable living on a micro-to-macro scale, overwhelm is avoided and the process is filled with attainability, longevity, and fun!

Photo Credit: Robyn Lindemann

Do you have an idol? 

Monica: My lifelong idol is Dr. Jane Goodall. I studied Biological Anthropology in college and all I really wanted to do was work with the Great Apes. I admire her for her bravery in taking risks, for educating while advocating, and for communicating climate impact and animal empathy in a way that everyone can comprehend.

Anne: I have a few. But the one that comes to mind right now is Dr. Jane Goodall!

What’s your mantra for life?

Anne: Keep your room in your heart for the unimaginable. You never know what’s waiting around the corner…

Monica: When you connect, you care. When you care, you help. So get outside and tap in! X

Click to find out more about Monica Richards, Anne Therese Gennari and the Counts in Climate corporate workshop.

This is a part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet, and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Fashion World Tokyo 2023: Pioneering Sustainability in Japan’s Fashion Landscape

Fashion World Tokyo 2023: Pioneering Sustainability in Japan’s Fashion Landscape

In the heart of Tokyo, where tradition and innovation converge, Fashion World Tokyo (FaW Tokyo) 2023 is set to unravel a fascinating tale of sustainable fashion. As Japan’s largest international fashion trade show, FaW Tokyo has transcended the boundaries of mere fashion exhibitions. It has become a platform that echoes the soulful harmony of sustainable practices, wellness, and avant-garde fashion trends.


Japan, a nation celebrated for its reverence for nature and cutting-edge technology, plays host to the grand spectacle known as Fashion World Tokyo. This colossal fashion exposition, organized by RX Japan Ltd., brings together a staggering 1,150 exhibitors from across the globe. Beyond being a fashion extravaganza, FaW Tokyo is an endeavor to spearhead sustainability in the Japanese fashion industry, aligning with the nation’s ethos of respecting nature as a fundamental part of its culture.

FaW Tokyo Vision of Sustainability


In a world teeming with fashion expos, FaW Tokyo stands apart with a resolute mission – to foster a circular economy and a recycling-based society within Japan’s fashion industry. It’s an ambition that dovetails perfectly with Japan’s reputation for innovation and reverence for the environment. The event seeks to achieve this by showcasing the latest sustainable technology and practices through its exhibition.

The Genesis of Sustainable Fashion Expo


The inception of the Sustainable Fashion Expo within FaW Tokyo was not by mere chance. It sprouted from the growing awareness of the fashion industry’s environmental impact. In 2019, as major fashion houses made headlines for waste incineration, Japan witnessed the profound effect of such incidents on its fashion landscape. Visitors and exhibitors called for a dedicated space to spotlight sustainable fashion. FaW Tokyo responded by launching the Sustainable Fashion Expo.

FaW Tokyo’s Impact on Sustainability


FaW Tokyo has emerged as a dynamic catalyst for the advancement of sustainable fashion in Japan and beyond. Major Japanese exhibitors such as YKK, trading giants like Itochu and Marubeni, and textile leaders like Toray and Shikibo illuminate the Sustainable Fashion Expo. Beyond these stalwarts, the expo showcases exhibitors committed to textile resource recycling, upcycled materials, and various technologies aimed at reducing clothing waste. These highlights collectively underline FaW Tokyo’s role as a harbinger of sustainability.

Japan Leading the World


As Japan paves the path to sustainability, it aspires to lead the world someday. The nation’s strong emphasis on wellness and health aligns seamlessly with the global trend. FaW Tokyo envisions Japan becoming the vanguard of sustainability, setting an example for the entire fashion industry.

Empowering Sustainable Fashion Brands


FaW Tokyo takes dedicated strides to empower sustainable fashion brands. It hosts a specialized exhibition, the Sustainable Fashion Expo, where brands can spotlight their commitment to sustainability. The event management proactively disseminates exhibitor information to industry media and press. FaW Tokyo’s commitment to promoting sustainable fashion transcends the event itself, extending to television broadcasts on two major national channels, collaborations with influencers, and extensive website, email, and social media promotions.

Introducing Wellness Fashion Expo


Following the success of Sustainable Fashion Expo, FaW Tokyo ventures into the world of wellness fashion. This addition aligns perfectly with Japan’s growing emphasis on longevity, wellness, and health. The concept resonates not only with the Japanese audience but also with the global wellness trend.

The Wellness Fashion Experience


Visitors to the Wellness Fashion Expo can expect an array of intriguing products. From Femtech-related fashion to comfort shoes, from fabrics that produce vitamin E to wearable smart fabrics, the expo offers a glimpse into the future of wellness fashion. Japan’s dedication to wellness and health finds expression in these innovative offerings.

Addressing Sustainability Challenges


Even in the organization of an event as colossal as FaW Tokyo, sustainability challenges are tackled head-on. FaW Tokyo is actively working to reduce waste by transitioning to recycled materials for its on-site materials. Collaborations with stand builders further contribute to minimizing the environmental footprint of the event.

FaW Tokyo doesn’t tread this path alone. With the guidance of the Conference Advisory Board, comprised of fashion industry leaders, the event launches sustainable fashion seminars and initiatives. Collaborations with major industry publications like WWD, experts, and the media help create a collective force that drives the industry towards sustainability.

In closing, FaW Tokyo extends an invitation to all to witness the direction in which the fashion industry is heading. It beckons readers to explore the latest and most advanced technologies and functional fabrics that Japan, the land of innovation, has to offer. FaW Tokyo isn’t merely an exposition; it’s a declaration that sustainability is the future of fashion.

FaW Tokyo 2023 is a journey that transcends borders, celebrating sustainable fashion as a bridge between tradition and innovation. In the heart of Tokyo, it’s a reminder that fashion isn’t just about what we wear; it’s about how we shape our future.

Tia Semi’s Inspiring Path from EFWA Runways to Sustainable Fashion

Tia Semi’s Inspiring Path from EFWA Runways to Sustainable Fashion

In the world of sustainable fashion, there are journeys that inspire and voices that echo powerful messages of inclusion and eco-consciousness. Tia Semi, a remarkable designer with a unique perspective, embodies both. From the runways of EFWA (Eco Fashion Week Australia) to her evolution as a sustainable fashion advocate, Tia’s story is one of resilience and creativity.

Navigating life with many challenges, Tia’s journey is a testament to the transformative potential of the fashion industry. EFWA provided not just a platform but a community that celebrated her uniqueness. It empowered her to create designs that fuse her Pacific Island heritage with sustainability, promoting eco-friendly practices and inclusivity. In this interview, we explore Tia’s vision for a more conscious and inclusive fashion landscape, where every individual, regardless of their background or abilities, can contribute to positive change.

Can you share with us your journey from being a runway model at EFWA to becoming a sustainable fashion designer? How did EFWA influence and inspire you to take this path?

EFWA made me more conscious of my impact on Mother Earth. I am privileged to combine the influence of my Pacific Island background and EFWA in learning about sustainability and as much as utilizing resources on our Earth, but also giving back to our Earth. I am more conscious of how I use my materials- I hand print my patterns on materials instead of mass production, I ensure I use and stretch every inch of fabric by having smaller offcuts created into scrunches and hats etc.

Tia Semi in a black outfit on the EFWA Runway
Photography by Port Douglas Photographer, Outfit by Curtin Spring

You have a unique perspective as someone who has personally experienced challenges such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, epilepsy, and being deaf. How has sustainable fashion and the platform of EFWA played a role in your mental and emotional well-being?

I am forever thankful for the EFWA platform, as they saw beyond my disabilities. This platform has proven to be impactful in a holistic way- they have embraced me as the being I am and I will forever pay it forward. Every individual has something to contribute to society and the Earth, we all leave an impact, no matter how big or small. EFWA embraced my uniqueness and now I can go out and share this with others. Together everybody achieves more. I am just getting started, what’s your excuse?

EFWA is known for its commitment to inclusivity and diversity. How has this platform empowered you as a designer and helped you bring your unique perspective to sustainable fashion?

EFWA embraced me and my uniqueness. I am not the same person when I first started my journey with EFWA 2018- I am bolder, and I am more confident in who I am and what I can achieve and contribute. I am more than willing to be the cheerleader and advocate for anybody else who needs guidance to find their path. Sustainability and Pacific Island fashion are my mandates- I am now an advocate by default. The Pacific Islands are the first to be affected by rising sea tides, so I have a responsibility to promote sustainability through my fashion label. EFWA has enabled me to be more conscious and dig deeper into my intentionality of what I am doing and how it affects Mother Earth.

Tia Semi in an orange outfit on the EFWA Runway
Photograph by Port Douglas Photographer

What are the key values and principles that you incorporate into your sustainable fashion designs?

I am a voice for the Pacific Islands and the effects of Global warming which affects the rising sea levels surrounding our Islands. My fashion label is a platform for sustainability and being conscious of how we leave our impact in this world. I use non-toxic fabric paint, I hand paint my materials, I utilize as much material to create accessories, etc. I would like to explore using my voice more to promote sustainability in my community and outer audience.

EFWA places a strong emphasis on eco-friendly materials and small-scale production of artistic clothes. How do you ensure that your designs reflect these values, and how has it impacted your creative process?

As I mentioned earlier, I use non-toxic fabric paint, hand-paint my materials, and avoid mass production. Also, I have collaborated with an Indigenous designer and created a line of upcycled Island design denim jackets (sourced from Op shops). This project was so fun and I would probably revisit it again in the near future. What a privilege to collaborate with other conscious and creative-minded fashion designers. This platform has opened up avenues I never should have manifested on my own accord. I am forever thankful and blessed for this opportunity.

How does fashion, as an art form, enable you to express yourself and communicate meaningful messages about sustainability and inclusivity?

Exploring sustainability through fashion is the best of both worlds! It is so fun and I love how we can develop our creations by digging a deeper level of creativity and innovation. My label embraces all people.

Can you share a specific moment or experience at EFWA that had a profound impact on your journey as a sustainable fashion designer?

Networking and collaborating with other fashion-conscious designers has been such a blessing. Also being on the runway and making lifelong friends through the experience with EFWA is something I’ll forever cherish in my life journey.

EFWA is known for raising awareness about the climate crisis and honoring biodiversity. How do you infuse these critical themes into your sustainable fashion designs?

I have mentioned in former questions my fusion with sustainability and the Pacific Islands- I am exploring more about how to be an impactful voice to reach a wider audience. My fashion is my voice, and I am developing and evolving this more and more. 

As a designer, how do you envision contributing to a more eco-conscious and inclusive fashion industry? What message do you hope to send to other aspiring designers and the broader fashion community?

We must utilize our strengths and explore our curiosities. If you asked me 4 years ago if I knew where I’d be now in my fashion and sustainability journey, I’d think you were talking about someone else. Just keep going, trip, fall, get up, and keep going. If your heart is true and you are willing to help others along the way, you cannot fail.

Tia Semi in a white and brown outfit on the EFWA Runway
Photography by Port Douglas Photographer, Outfit by Sylvia Calvo BCN

Lastly, how has EFWA as a platform shaped your perspective on fashion, sustainability, and the power of collective action?

As I have mentioned before, EFWA embraced me and my uniqueness and helped me to become more conscious of my impact on Mother Earth. Every person I have encountered on my journey has had an impact on my life. I love to reflect on my experiences and can only smile with appreciation and humility. I am a strong young Samoan and Aussie woman, I am alive, and I have a purpose and a voice. I will not give up, so don’t you give up. We all have a role to play. Start small and build- one foot in front of the other.

This is a part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet, and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Fast Fashion Addiction: The Cycle We Need to Break

Fast Fashion Addiction: The Cycle We Need to Break

So how would you like to define “addiction”? We all know that there are several proper definitions of it according to study fields like medical science, psychology, and many more. Yet, I’m asking you to define it because I believe it’s important to define such things by ourselves. Because before defining it by yourself, you will take some time to think about it – how you feel about it, and I think that is what’s really important. Of course, I am not telling you to ignore the proper dentitions provided by the experts – we will definitely take those definitions and studies into account as we move forward. 

To me “addiction” is a habit that one does not have control over. The starting of it may be simple or fun, but as time passes the habit does not stay as simple as it was in the beginning. It becomes so complicated that overcoming it needs a really powerful force. Along with it, I think the habit of “addiction” harms the one who is addicted, it also may harm the ones close to that person, and it surely has detrimental environmental, social, economic, and health aspects.

How real is Fast Fashion Addiction?

Let’s think about a narcotic substance that surely causes addiction. Let’s consider cocaine for the sake of the discussion. The first experience of cocaine for someone mostly starts due to simple reasons like curiosity, fun, or the fact that everyone else is doing it – the enjoyment really feels worthwhile. But as the habit grows, the person who started it due to simpler reasons gets into a solid web. Parties and hangouts become less fun if there’s no cocaine. Friends who have the connections to supply become closer friends. Numbers of drug dealers get saved in the phone books. Money starts to vanish. Health starts to go bad. Family and good friends start to get worried. To maintain the supply of cocaine “The War on Drugs” continues to fail, people get tortured, enslaved, and killed.

Drug addiction

Now you might ask – “Seriously? You are comparing my shopping habit to something so harmful?”. My answer would be – “Yes! But I don’t have anything against you. I am simply trying to paint a picture for both of us to understand this more clearly.” 

From what I understand, following fast fashion or following new trends is fun at the beginning – because it’s simple to follow trends ( no need to think much about our own point of view of style ). It’s also something that almost everyone is doing around you – so it’s easier to join that team. It’s super available. It’s cheap – because the industry that’s producing it is surely using cheap materials to produce those, not providing proper wages to the real producers of those items in the best-case scenarios because, in the worst-case scenarios, we still hear about modern-day slavery of the garment workers. 

Garments worker in Bangladesh protesting on the street

Now let’s talk about the detrimental effects of it. To keep up with the trends – to hang out with those friends, to join those parties; you need to keep buying the latest trends. Just like the drug dealers on speed dial, you have all the apps that you need to keep ordering new ones – otherwise, you will be the one who will feel like an outcast at the next party. Now to keep buying those, you need a constant flow of money and if you don’t have that – well they will be sold to you for credit, you will prioritise that over your basic needs.

Now let’s think about the social effects. By seeing you following the trends, your friends will be more intrigued to follow those too. I am saying “more” because the industry through its amazing marketing and advertising has fruitfully convinced us that – it’s important, it’s fun, and it’s the only way to stay relevant. So, when you’re someone who’s following those, you’re doing free marketing for the industry too – your friend who is being inspired to do so by seeing you (along with the advertisements and seeing others) and probably considering it more important than basic needs too, just like you. 

shopping

If you think about the environmental effects of it – it gets more serious. To keep the price low, the industry seeks cheap materials. Those materials don’t last, but you won’t be wearing them after a few times eventually, so it doesn’t matter! So for those cheap materials, the industry turns to detrimental environmental practices of production which ensures bountiful materials at a cheap rate, and for that toxic chemicals are used. When those toxic chemicals get released into our water and air and soil, all of those get polluted – it affects our food production, puts our water security at threat, makes us inhale toxins harmful to our bodies. The process through its pollution affects all the other species too. Not to mention, to bring that product to your doorstep a huge amount of fuel is burned – the cost of which is way more than what you’ve paid for.

The health concerns now! I’ve already said how the production process can affect our environment. How tough it is to understand that what’s bad for the soil, the water, the air, and for other species – is harmful for us too? By wearing those things we let our bodies be in direct connection to those harmful materials.

fashion waste dumpsite

Now let’s paint the picture for real

Let’s see how addiction is defined by the experts. According to the website of the NHS – “Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.”, it is also mentioned that while addiction is mostly associated with drugs, gambling, alcohol, and smoking; it is also possible to become addicted to things like shopping, internet or even work. 

This is what the American Psychiatric Association says about addiction – “Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences.”

So according to these definitions, we can surely say that: 

  1. “Not having control over” – is a major factor of addiction.
  2. It is a complex condition.
  3. It is possible to become addicted to shopping.
  4. Despite harmful consequences, addiction goes on.

Can’t we all relate it to what I have said earlier about the addiction to fast fashion? 

Let’s get inside the brain to understand fast fashion addiction

Woman thinking

The whole idea of “addiction” is very complex, and what I have found out is – that there are many reasons behind the addiction to fast fashion too. 

One of the most common things is something called FOMO (fear of missing out), but I guess you all know about it. This is what the European Union says about FOMO – “FOMO is an overwhelming fear that other people at any given time are participating in exciting experiences in which you are not part of”. Social media plays an important part in spreading this, and fast fashion brands are using it perfectly. They are constantly offering discounts that do not last long, showing photos of clothes that celebrities are using and claiming that the stock of those clothes is limited, and constantly releasing new designs to make you feel that you have missed the last trend and this new one won’t last long too; so you need to grab it right now!

Shopping can be addictive, and fast fashion brands know it well. According to a study by a team of researchers from Stanford, MIT, and Carnegie Mellon – the pleasure center of the brain gets activated when a person comes across something that she/he/they wants to buy. The more the person wants the item, the more the pleasure center in the brain gets active, and when the item can be purchased at a cheaper rate, the brain gives the maximum sense of pleasure.

Now fast fashion brands produce about 52 micro-seasons in a year or one new collection a week! Just think about, every week how many clothes they are putting on display for you to see and desire. The cheaper the clothes, the more people desire them, the more people purchase them, and the more you see them on social media ( because people like to show what they bought, that they are keeping up with the trends, and the brands encourage everyone to keep posting photos and videos of their clothes that people bought and tag the brands in those contents; that’s what “fashion hauls” are ), and the more you desire to own them too. The crazy part is, that this cycle goes on every week, and the fashion industry keeps feeding this loop in our brains which creates an effect something very similar to addiction

Fashion waste dumpsite

To keep this cycle of consumption alive a culture of mindless consumption and throwing away has been established. There is a huge group of consumers who believe that they do not want to be seen in an item more than once because that might give others the idea that they have gone out of style! It’s important to point out that by “being seen” they mean that, they do not want to appear on social media twice in the same piece of garment!!

Let’s Calculate the Numbers for Fast Fashion Addiction

For the sake of the calculation, let’s say your favorite brand is H&M and you are someone who is willing to buy every week from their new collections. If you buy something in the price range from $20-$40 from them every week, then at the end of the year the amount of all your purchased items from this brand will be somewhere around $1040 – $2080 ( calculated in reference to 52 seasons a year ), and that is just one brand, and that is just a moderate pricing range considering different socio-economic situations. After this, to go with these clothes, you will need accessories and shoes too!!

Shopping addiction

Now think about that friend of yours who is super inspired by your shopping habit to do so! That’s another $1040 – $2080 dollars, plus the accessories and shoes!

Now, let’s talk about environmental numbers. Between 80 and 100 billion new clothing garments are produced globally every year, and from these new garment, 92 million tonnes end up in landfills. This means a rubbish truck full of clothes ends up in landfills every second, and this industry is expecting to grow more every year! More importantly, around 60% of all clothing material now is synthetic fibers, which means plastic – nylon, acrylic, polyester, etc. The textile industry generates 42 million tons of plastic waste per year. Every time you wash a synthetic garment, it releases tiny plastic microfibers into the water. Up to 500,000 tons of microfibers end up in the ocean every year. This industry accounts for  9% of annual microplastic pollution added to our oceans. This is just a tiny fraction of the whole environmental problem caused by fast fashion, and it is expected that the apparel industry’s global emissions will increase by 50% by 2030 if the business-as-usual scenario continues. Along with every kind of plastic pollution, the fast fashion industry harms our environment through the usage of textile dyes, and pesticides, overproduction of low-quality garments that end up in landfills ( and creates waste colonialism too! ), excessive usage of water and water pollution, emissions from the transportation sector due to long supply chains and global shipping, energy-intensive production process which is heavily dependant on fossil fuels, methane emissions from the landfills due to overproduction of low-quality garments made mostly from synthetic fiber and waste colonialism.

It is not tough to understand that all of these adverse environmental impacts are harmful to our health too. Plastic pollution can damage human cells and can lead to infertility, obesity, diabetes, prostate or breast cancer, thyroid problems, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, among others. Prolonged exposure to textile dyes can lead to skin allergies, respiratory problems, hormonal imbalances, and even certain types of cancers. Methane emissions reduce the amount of oxygen breathed from the air and cause mood changes, slurred speech, vision problems, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing and headache, lung diseases, asthma attacks, cardiovascular morbidity, and mortality, and heightened stroke risk. These are just some of the health effects that can be caused by the pollution generated by the fashion industry, and if you still want to learn more about it, I am sure you can google it and learn from verified sources.

All the other adverse effects

At this point of the article, I am really feeling overwhelmed and tired to even talk about all the other negative impacts caused by fast fashion, but they surely include serious factors like – labor exploitation, deforestation, biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, etc. 

Deforestation

How to overcome the fast fashion addiction

Now that we’ve explored the deep-rooted addiction that fast fashion can become, it’s time to shed light on breaking free from this cycle. Embracing a sustainable, eco-conscious approach to fashion and lifestyle is not only a remedy for our planet but also for our well-being.

Love for earth

Slow Down, Choose Quality: Shift your focus from quantity to quality. Invest in timeless pieces that are made to last. Seek out brands that prioritize durability and craftsmanship. Remember, a well-made, classic garment can serve you for years, saving you money in the long run.

Circular Fashion: Embrace circular fashion principles. Explore thrift stores, vintage shops, and second-hand markets. Not only will you find unique pieces with character, but you’ll also extend the lifespan of clothing and reduce waste.

Regenerative Fashion: Support regenerative fashion practices. Look for brands that prioritize sustainability, ethical labor practices, and environmental conservation. These brands often use eco-friendly materials, reduce waste, and contribute positively to local communities.

Capsule Wardrobe: Simplify your wardrobe with a capsule wardrobe. Choose versatile, mix-and-match pieces that suit your style. This minimalist approach reduces the temptation to constantly buy new clothes.

Mindful Consumption: Before making a purchase, pause and reflect. Ask yourself if you truly need the item or if it’s just a fleeting trend. Consider its impact on the environment, and opt for eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, hemp, or recycled fabrics.

DIY and Upcycling: Get creative! Learn basic sewing and repair skills to mend and upcycle your clothing. Transform old items into new, unique pieces. It’s a fulfilling way to reduce waste and express your individuality.

Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the fashion industry’s impact on the environment and society. Understanding the consequences of fast fashion can motivate you to make more conscious choices.

Community and Swap: Organize clothing swaps with friends and family. It’s an enjoyable way to refresh your wardrobe without spending money and gives previously-owned garments a new life.

Support Sustainable Brands: Discover and support sustainable fashion brands and designers. They’re leading the way in creating clothing that’s stylish, eco-friendly, and ethical.

Spread Awareness: Share your journey towards sustainable fashion with others. By raising awareness and educating friends and family, you can collectively reduce the demand for fast fashion.

Breaking free from fast fashion addiction isn’t just about changing our habits; it’s about transforming our perspective on fashion and consumption. It’s a shift towards a lifestyle that’s not only better for us but for our planet and future generations. Remember, small changes lead to big impacts. Together, we can create a fashion industry that values quality, sustainability, and ethical practices over mindless consumption.

How you dress is an expression of your identity, so explore and express yourself mindfully – let fashion be a force for good.

Woman wearing a beautiful white dress in the field
Empowering Women Through Fashion: Hayley Beardman on her EFWA Journey

Empowering Women Through Fashion: Hayley Beardman on her EFWA Journey

In the dynamic world of fashion and modeling, Hayley Beardman started her remarkable journey at the tender age of 7. Growing up amidst the ever-evolving trends and styles of the industry, she has honed her craft into something truly extraordinary. As a dedicated member of the Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) family, Hayley has played an integral role in promoting sustainability and empowerment in the fashion industry. Her passion for nurturing emerging talents and empowering young models shines through in every role she takes on.

Hailing from the vibrant city of Perth, Western Australia, Hayley has graced the pages of numerous magazines, showcasing her remarkable versatility across a wide spectrum of genres, from high fashion to artistic expression. Yet, what truly sets Hayley apart is her indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to making a difference. She’s not just a model; she is an empowering force, a mentor, and a trailblazer.

Explore her inspiring journey and insights in the full interview below, as she shares her experiences and sheds light on the vital intersection of sustainable fashion and mainstream trends. Get ready to be inspired by the formidable Hayley Beardman!

Can you share your remarkable journey with EFWA from its inception? How did you first become involved, and what inspired you to join this movement for sustainable fashion?

The first time I walked for Zuhal wearing Green Embassy was at the Ellington Jazz Club. It was before Eco Fashion Week even evolved in Perth. It was a small event showcasing her work. I honestly fell in love with her designs even more wearing them. Once I understood the story and how they were actually made, I was truly excited to be able to walk and work with Zuhal for Eco Fashion Week Australia when the first show was in 2017. By the end of this show, I knew I wanted more.

Photo of Hayley Beardman with Zuhal Kuvan-Mills, Founder of Eco Fashion Week Australia standing in the garden of Green Embassy
Photo of Hayley Beardman with Zuhal Kuvan-Mills, Founder of Eco Fashion Week Australia

Balancing a full-time job, motherhood, and a modeling career is truly commendable. How have you managed to keep your passion for modeling alive amidst your busy life?

It’s definitely a juggle, and balancing is a hard word to say already! (Laughs) I do have a loving partner who supports me with everything I do and an amazing family who is happy to help with Austin & Ariela when I am working in the Modeling field. This career I started when I was 7 years old; I was actually a really shy kid & would hide behind my mum’s legs. Modeling is what brought out the sparkle in me and made me passionate about this career. It’s why I truly enjoy doing this. I feel that if you’re passionate about something enough, you never work a day in your life.

You’ve been a steadfast presence even during EFWA’s early days when financial constraints were challenging. What motivated you to continue with EFWA despite the financial hurdles?

It is a passion of mine, modeling and being involved in such amazing projects. Money isn’t everything; this show is more than just a show – it’s a story, and it needs to be told! Zuhal is an amazing woman, and her story is truly courageous. I love supporting Zuhal and honestly cannot wait for the next year 2024 EFWA!

Using your work holidays to practice for EFWA showcases your dedication. How do these events differ from other fashion shows you’ve been a part of, and what keeps you motivated to invest such time and effort?

Participating in EFWA’s showcases feels more like joining a close-knit family than just another fashion event. It’s a unique blend of camaraderie, support, and genuine care. We know we can rely on each other, from fellow models to the dedicated parents who become like our own. It’s a nurturing and welcoming environment, unlike any other show. Even in challenging times, like in 2018 when my son, Austin, was just 3 months old, EFWA’s exceptional support allowed me to return to the catwalk on the Finale show, a gesture rarely seen in most fashion events. This is the essence of EFWA – it’s not merely an event; it’s a family.

How do you manage the dual role of being a model and a mother during such high-energy events?

I am going to say it’s hard work tbh, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I honestly really enjoy Modelling and being able to help others. Keeping the energy levels up is easy when it is something you are already passionate about. I love being on the catwalk and strutting my stuff tbh is honestly a lot of fun, and if I’m behind the scenes doing backstage/ coordinator for the models, it’s a rush to get things done and knowing others are looking at you as a role model too.

You’ve taken on the role of managing young models backstage. Can you share your experiences in this mentorship role? How does it feel to be an older sister figure to these aspiring models?

It’s something I really like doing and being able to help others in this industry is honestly a blessing. To be known in this industry is quite surreal tbh and being asked to help with a lot of modeling events or help train other models for other shows I am involved in is a dream of mine… I started my journey by opening up my own Modeling school – Poise Modelling Academy wanting to teach young models, the safety of modeling and inspire them. I have models I taught in my modeling school who still come to me and ask me questions to this day and it makes it worthwhile. Unfortunately, it’s not easy and not everyone wants to pay but doing this opened up a lot of opportunities for me especially mentoring, choreography, and running backstage.

EFWA seems to have become more than just a platform for you. How would you describe your role in the EFWA family, and what does this community mean to you?

It means the world to me, when I found out Zuhal was re-opening up this Project, I was so excited!!! I honestly cannot wait to be back on the catwalk, helping backstage, and being around everyone again.

As someone deeply connected to the sustainable fashion movement, could you share your insights on the differences between fast fashion and sustainable fashion from a professional model’s viewpoint?

Working with a lot of the designers on the runway to photoshoots – the difference I feel personally is creativity in their design. There’s a lot of thought, and effort, and shows truly how designers in “sustainable fashion” are passionate about the environment and the world around them. I am not saying that fast fashion doesn’t have passion as such – I am saying that it’s just that they can sell easily from catwalk to the shelves, while sustainable fashion is usually a once-off piece. This is only my perspective and my thoughts, but everyone thinks differently. Working with and hearing the designers’ stories who work in sustainable fashion shows their willingness to evolve.

EFWA embodies sustainable fashion. Could you elaborate on how this event’s philosophy aligns with your values as a model, and how it differs from typical fashion shows?

It’s very similar in certain ways as typical fashion to sustainable fashion on what happens backstage with catwalk shows, some show it’s just a straight catwalk where you will walk up to the front pose, then walk off, to some it might be a small routine with others on the catwalk. What I do find different is with EFWA they do talk about the actual designer and hear the stories behind the designs coming to life on the catwalk. I feel with Sustainable fashion – some designers want a bit of character on the catwalk where they might want a bit of sass, smiles, and to really show the design off not just a mannequin on the catwalk.

From your unique perspective, what message do sustainable fashion events like EFWA send to the fashion industry and society as a whole?

Sounds a little crazy, I was speaking with Zuhal having a chai, and talking about how I see fashion with what she is doing with EFWA and how designers are evolving to grow in this way, and then how I see this movement growing not just fashion but to the world – think about, everyone is already trying to go greener slowly as it takes time…

Our area that I live in has a buy nothing group where another person’s unwanted items become someone else’s new toy, new clothes, new kitchen utensils, etc. instead of them just throwing them out they become reused. I just purchased last week some Eco-Friendly kitchen reusable baking mats that can be reused up to at least 100 times and eventually save me money too in my pocket. They are catching on – but it does take time to understand.

How do you see the role of models evolving in promoting sustainable fashion? How can models contribute to raising awareness about ethical practices in the industry?

Social Media has a huge presence for Teens nowadays, they constantly have a phone glued to their hands! I feel this is likely the only way to help evolve and showcase sustainable fashion. If the Teens / Models are talking it gets others talking.

How do you educate yourself about sustainable fashion, and what changes have you personally made in your fashion choices to be more environmentally conscious?

I haven’t really bought any clothes for about 7 years… the BUY NOTHING GROUP is where I shop! Unless it’s underwear of course hahaha!

With your experience, what advice would you give to aspiring models who are interested in pursuing a career aligned with sustainable fashion values?

To give it a go, you have nothing to lose, and might be surprised how much you actually enjoy it!

As EFWA grows and the fashion industry evolves, where do you envision the intersection of sustainable fashion and mainstream fashion in the coming years?

I feel some designers might be willing to take on the challenge eventually, it will take time and it’s already happening in Tafes where they are learning and challenging themselves in “sustainable fashion”. I do feel mainstream will slowly evolve into sustainable fashion on the catwalk even more, especially with how our world is already evolving and talking about climate change to recycling items & reusable goods, why can’t fashion be that as well?

This is a part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet, and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Trashion to Fashion: Habiba Abdulrahman Hemed’s Stylish Eco-Journey

Trashion to Fashion: Habiba Abdulrahman Hemed’s Stylish Eco-Journey

In the dynamic landscape of sustainability and fashion, Habiba Abdulrahman Hemed emerges as a compelling advocate for change. At just 30 years old, she’s making remarkable strides in promoting eco-consciousness and responsible fashion practices. With her unwavering commitment to environmental causes and sustainability, Habiba is a driving force behind positive change in the region.

As the CSR Ambassador at Mrs. Earth UAE and the founder of ‘Trashion Kenya,’ Habiba has dedicated herself to raising awareness about environmental issues and transforming the fashion industry into a more sustainable and responsible one. In this exclusive interview, she shares her insights and experiences, providing a glimpse into her inspiring journey and her vision for a more eco-conscious future.

Congratulations on being awarded 2nd Runners Up and CSR Ambassador at Mrs Earth UAE!

Can you tell us more about your role as an ambassador and how it connects with the Women of the Earth Foundation’s mission for positive change, sustainability, and social responsibility?

Thank you so much for your kind words! It is a great honor to have won Mrs Earth UAE Water Award symbolic of one of the elements of nature as 2nd Runners-up. Being also awarded as the Mrs Earth UAE CSR Ambassador Award for the Women of the Earth Foundation is a great achievement and a recognition for my commitment to sustainability and the environment. As the Mrs Earth UAE Water and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) ambassador, I have the opportunity to raise awareness about important environmental issues and inspire others to take action and promote the Mrs Earth UAE Women of the Earth Foundation’s mission and values. This is especially meaningful in the Year of Sustainability in the UAE, as the country prepares to host COP28.

Additionally, as Mrs Earth UAE Delegates, we serve as ambassadors of the Women of the Earth Foundation which is a non-profit organization and the official philanthropic initiative of Mrs Earth UAE, with a mission to inspire change and overcome nature’s issues collectively by promoting environmental literacy and inspire collective community changes to help save our planet.

Your journey as a sustainability advocate and founder of Trashion Kenya is impressive.

What initially sparked your passion for sustainable fashion and environmental consciousness, and how have your background and experiences shaped your commitment to making a positive impact in the field of sustainability?

Thank you for the great compliments. My passion for sustainable fashion and environmental consciousness was sparked by a desire to make a positive impact in my country, Kenya. My sustainability journey started with volunteering for charity work, community clean-ups, and nature regeneration initiatives such as mangroves and tree planting through different local organizations in Kenya. I witnessed firsthand the impacts of plastic pollution, textile, and other waste on our ecosystems.

This drove me towards researching for solutions both online and offline, by attending sustainability-focused events such as the first sustainable blue economy conference which was hosted in Nairobi, Kenya in 2018 where I gained knowledge on sustainability and insights on environmental solutions by interacting and engaging with experts in the field. I also discovered the art of creating fashionable products from waste through sustainability events. Since I was also already blogging about travel, lifestyle, and fashion, this motivated me to combine my background in blogging, fashion, and content creation with my commitment to sustainability, leading me to found Trashion Kenya. My personal blog is now dedicated fully on sustainable fashion, travel, and lifestyle as an ethical influencer, habibabien.eco.

Through Trashion Kenya, I had the the opportunity to volunteer in schools in Kenya where I started the ‘Trashion Club’ which included fun up-cycling activities and awareness talks before I moved to the UAE. Not to mention more youth participation opportunities such as the Creative World Forum in Eindhoven Netherlands where for the first time, I presented Trashion Kenya to the world and engaged with youths, experts, and leaders in the sustainability space where we exchanged great futuristic ideas. Through Trashion Kenya, I aim to raise awareness about the importance of sustainability in fashion including innovative up-cycling and recycling solutions, join hands with fashion activist organizations in my country and globally for climate-just fashion, train and educate youths in partnership with the Green Futures Fellowship and inspire others to embrace more sustainable practices. 

As a sustainability advocate based in the UAE, how do you see eco and sustainable fashion evolving in the region? What challenges and opportunities do you see for promoting sustainable fashion in your location?

As a sustainability advocate based in the UAE, I see eco and sustainable fashion evolving positively in the region. There is a growing awareness and interest in sustainable practices among consumers and fashion brands. However, there are still challenges to overcome, such as limited access to sustainable materials, the need for more education and awareness, and the need for more sustainable fashion businesses, only a handful in the region. The opportunities lie in promoting local sustainable fashion designers, encouraging collaborations, and fostering a culture of conscious consumption such as clothing swap events, thrifting, renting, and reselling.

Fashion Revolution U.A.E plays a significant role in raising awareness about ethical fashion. Can you share some of the initiatives or campaigns that you’ve been involved in and how they have contributed to promoting a more transparent and sustainable fashion industry?

Fashion Revolution UAE, with the valuable contribution of its dedicated organizing team, plays a vital role in advancing the cause of sustainable fashion in the region. As part of the Fashion Revolution UAE organizing team, we have been involved in various impactful initiatives and campaigns every annual Fashion Revolution Week (held every year on April 24 for one consecutive week) to promote a more transparent and sustainable fashion industry. One of our key initiatives is the “Who Made My Clothes?” campaign, where we encourage consumers to question the origins of their garments and demand transparency from brands.

We also organize educational workshops and events to raise awareness about ethical fashion practices and showcase sustainable designers and brands, including local fashion school students’ sustainable fashion contests. Through these efforts, we aim to empower individuals to make informed choices and drive positive change in the fashion industry.  Our collective efforts at Fashion Revolution UAE and commitment to promoting conscious and eco-friendly practices, I believe, are making a profound impact on the industry and inspiring positive change in the fashion industry, promoting a more sustainable and conscious approach to fashion. Together, we can make a significant impact on promoting sustainable fashion in the UAE. 

You are the founder of Trashion Kenya. Could you tell us more about this organization and its goals in promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness through fashion?

Trashion Kenya is an initiative I founded with the goal of promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness through fashion. It was established as a media platform to raise awareness through a fusion of trash and fashion design that is either upcycled or recycled whilst communicating environmental conservation and advocating against plastic through campaigns, beach cleanups, and workshops. We believe that fashion can be a powerful tool for positive change.

Our mission at Trashion Kenya is to raise awareness about the environmental and social impact of the fashion industry. We aim to inspire individuals to embrace sustainable practices and understand the value of reducing waste not only plastic and textile waste but waste in general. Additionally, we strive to offer sustainable alternatives to promote a more sustainable future. It’s been a challenging journey; Trashion Kenya took a pause during the Covid-19 pandemic but has eventually resumed this year in 2023 with the main focus on serving as an educational platform teaching youths about climate justice and sustainable fashion.

Through a partnership with the Green Futures Fellowship, we have been educating passionate youths on climate education, including sustainable fashion. With great efforts from the Green Futures Fellowship’s team lead, Jonah Kirabo, we brought in climate experts from various fields, and I’m proud to say that the first cohort was a great success! At Trashion Kenya, we are driven by our goal to make a global impact through storytelling, education, and sustainable fashion innovation. We aim to inspire people to make more conscious choices. We’re currently exploring various avenues, such as books, documentaries, and educational institutions, to bring our bigger vision to life. Taking it one step at a time, we’re committed to creating a more sustainable future for fashion and the planet. 

How do you see your role as a young woman in sustainability influencing and inspiring the next generation of advocates and changemakers in the field of sustainability and eco-fashion?

As a young woman in sustainability, I strive to be a role model and advocate for positive change in the field of sustainability and eco-fashion. By sharing my passion, knowledge, and experiences, I hope to inspire the next generation of advocates and changemakers to embrace sustainable practices and make a difference. Together, we can create a more conscious and environmentally friendly future for fashion and the world. 

As someone who is deeply involved in the sustainable fashion movement, what advice would you give to individuals and communities who wish to incorporate more sustainable choices into their daily lives?

For individuals and communities looking to incorporate more sustainable choices into their daily lives, my advice would be to start small and be mindful of your consumption. Consider thrifting or buying second-hand clothing, as it reduces waste and supports a circular economy. Invest in quality, timeless pieces that will last longer. Embrace the concept of “less is more” and avoid fast fashion trends. Educate yourself about sustainable materials and ethical brands. And most importantly, remember that every small choice counts, and together we can make a big impact. 

Can you share a story or experience that has been particularly meaningful to you during your journey as a sustainability advocate and how it has shaped your perspective on the importance of sustainable fashion and environmental responsibility?

Visiting waste recycling facilities, slums, and dumpsites in my country, Kenya, during my journey as a sustainability advocate while working on a sustainable fashion campaign for Trashion Kenya was a profound experience that left a lasting impact. It opened my eyes to the environmental challenges we face and reinforced my commitment to promoting sustainable practices. Especially seeing the mountains of discarded plastic waste and clothing, and learning about the challenges of second-hand traders about the poor quality of “mitumba” (second-hand clothes) that often end up being burned or discarded.

Interacting with the community living in these areas and hearing their stories of experiencing pollution firsthand reinforced my commitment to promoting sustainable fashion and environmental responsibility. What truly inspired me was witnessing the beauty that can be created from waste by the Trashion community in Kenya as a sign of hope and true activism. This led me to explore global innovations in sustainable fashion which has further fueled my motivation to promote the movement. It’s incredible to see the endless possibilities and inspiring ideas that are shaping the future of fashion and it’s moments like these that drive me to continue my work and inspire others to make a positive change. 

How do you envision the future of sustainable fashion in the UAE and beyond? What are your hopes for a more eco-conscious and socially responsible fashion industry?

I envision a future where sustainable fashion in the UAE and beyond becomes the norm, rather than the exception. A future where shopping malls are filled with sustainable fashion brands with no sight of fast fashion brands. My hope is for a fashion industry that embraces eco-conscious practices and prioritizes social responsibility. I hope to see an increase in sustainable materials, ethical production processes, transparent supply chains, and fair pay for professionals in the fashion industry in the UAE including fashion models. I also hope for greater awareness and education among consumers, leading to more conscious purchasing decisions. Ultimately, I believe that by working together, we can create a fashion industry that is both stylish and sustainable, making a positive impact on the environment and society. 

How do you define success?

For me, success is not just about personal achievements, but also about making a positive impact in the world. It’s about pursuing my passions, embracing my values, and striving to create meaningful change. Success is finding fulfillment in what I do and inspiring others to do the same. It’s about leaving a positive legacy and contributing to a better future for all. 

What’s your mantra for life?

As a sustainability advocate, my mantra for life is toBe the change you wish to see in the world. It reminds me to lead by example, to live in alignment with my values, and to actively work towards creating a more sustainable and equitable future. It’s a constant reminder that even small actions can make a big difference. 

How can others support your good work?

Thank you for offering me the platform for others to support my work in sustainability. They can join my sustainability journey by following my personal eco page habibabien.eco on social media platforms active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Threads, where I create content to raise awareness about sustainable fashion and environmental responsibility. I’m soon to launch my website. They can also connect with Trashion Kenya on social media Instagram, Twitter and Threads, Trashion Kenya on LinkedIn and Facebook to explore collaboration opportunities on climate-just fashion and education. I also extend an invitation to eco-conscious brands and individuals who are interested in partnering and collaborating with me to amplify our efforts and promote sustainable practices together. We can also get acquainted on my LinkedIn, Habiba Abdulrahman. Together, we can create a more sustainable future! 

This is a part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet, and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

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