The fashion industry is a multibillion dollar industry that dumps millions of gallons of chemicals (pesticides, dyes, bleach) into water systems and produces millions of tons of waste every year.
Taryn Hipwell, one half of the Eco Divas TV Series
, aims to do something about that, starting with the kids who will be personally affected by the environmental wrongs of the fashion industry. After spending a summer teaching eco-fashion in Zambia, she realized she wanted to do more.
"I knew that for very little money I could return to Zambia and build a camp/educational facility that would help these young people learn real marketable skills in fashion using recycled materials
. I would also bring light to the conversation about the incredible damage this waste was doing to the county (and to the world)," says Taryn. Check out the Kickstarter campaign
video below, and consider donating to this awesome project. (This would make a great gift for a fashion-minded friend or family member, too). Donations close at midnight on Dec. 26, so donate now — even if you can only give a small amount; every little bit helps!
Taryn thinks this a not only an ethical, but a smart skill for African young people to learn, and she says that the students she has taught have brought a tremendous amount of energy and creativity to projects she worked on last time she was in Zambia. Taryn explains, "The industry is slowly shifting and I feel that the next generation 'gets it' and they are ready to do whatever it takes to have a greener future … especially if it's fun, fascinating and fashionable."
Why fashion education? "I’ve noticed that both students in the U.S. and Africa learn more from hands-on pop culture activities rather than simply watching documentaries. Students from all over see the need for change, want to connect with students from other countries, because they love to learn in fun, relatable ways, especially if can lead to sustainable jobs in the future. And we need to learn just as much from them as they can learn from us. The amazing thing about teaching EcoFashion is that most the time I’m not even teaching fashion. As one of my advisors explained to me, it’s my job to teach responsibility, leadership skills and empower youth to think outside the box … and if I can do that, then change will come," says Taryn.
About Taryn Hipwell: Taryn has taught about “Sustainability and the Fashion Industry” (People, Planet, Profit) at San Francisco State, Michigan University and Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) Los Angeles. She also teaches “Eco Fashion”/“R’ashion"/”Recycled Fashion” at Environmental Charter High School (ECHS) through Youth Policy Institute, YEN Zambia (Youth Environmental Network) and at Hollywood Media Arts (a school that helps at-risk young adults get off the streets).