Columbia University EcoReps recently organized several initiatives on campus to promote sustainable fashion. It aims to promote sustainable behavior and implement green initiatives on Columbia's campus.

The student group works in collaboration with Columbia's offices of Housing, Dining, and Environmental Stewardship. It is the largest sustainability organization at Columbia University since 2005.

Conscious consumerism is taking off, and many people understand why sustainable fashion matters today. It's also very encouraging to see all actors of the industry implement more sustainability practices.

Columbia University EcoReps hosted clothing swaps and table talks with the Columbia University Fashion Society and Barnard/Columbia Design For America to raise awareness of sustainable fashion.

The organization also launched sustainable fashion workshops on Zoom through its Living Green Committee. The Living Green Committee wants to educate those around us on the many ways that they can start "Living Green."

It regularly creates videos and other media types to distribute to the campus community and hosts numerous educational events and workshops.

"Now, with a heightened awareness of climate change, many students recognize the huge emissions impact of the clothing industry and are looking for alternatives, and providing educational programming about how to live a greener lifestyle is what the Living Green Committee is all about."

- Silas Swanson, Living Green Committee co-head

Ammar Belal is an adjunct professor at the School of Professional Studies. He recently launched the course Sustainable Fashion and Startup Strategy and raises discussion around important topics, including sustainability initiatives in the apparel industry.

Ammar Belal encourages students to familiarize themselves with various tools that help business models and new startups implement more sustainable practices, learn about the history of sustainable fashion initiatives and the key stakeholders involved.

"We've tried to place the responsibility on one stakeholder, whereas I think, the more I am in this space, and the more my colleagues say, that it's a systematic issue where all stakeholders have to do their part.

Look at any initiatives outside of fashion that have been successful in making a policy change.

They start from cities, with neighborhoods, smaller communities saying us as citizens, the government, the business community, the input community, and the regulars are all on the same page.

Then collectively as a community of citizens, lawmakers, and business owners, they all move forward with a long-term vision."

- Ammar Belal, professor at School of Professional Studies

Ammar Belal believes that students should develop their sustainability initiatives and implement them. Everyone has a role to play and can take actions to make an impact, including brands, retailers, and consumers.

You have the power to accelerate transformation in the clothing industry. You vote with your money by changing your shopping habits, boycotting unethical fashion brands, and switching to sustainable fashion.

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About the Author: Alex Assoune

What We're Up Against

Fast fashion groups overproducing cheap clothes in the poorest countries.
Garment factories with sweatshop-like conditions underpaying workers.
Media conglomerates promoting unethical, unsustainable fashion products.
Bad actors encouraging clothing overconsumption through oblivious behavior.
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