Gabriella Smith raised awareness of the effects of fashion in our world, by utilizing creative ways to engage brands and consumers to rethink the way they design and shop. A few years ago, she started to wonder if fashion, like food, was going to go through a sort of organic transition. She started investigating brands that would be ethically-made and sustainably-sourced. She started to do a lot of research. It turned out that the fashion industry works on a take-make-waste model. We took from our environment with no hesitation. We bought our clothes with very little regard for those who made them. We wore them once or twice, and then they were in the garbage. One T-shirt took 2,700 liters of water to make, and the 116 T-shirts made around 313,200 liters of water. In the US alone, they have 25 billion pounds of textile waste every year. 15% of that got recycled; the other 85% went straight into the landfill. We were constantly being bombarded by marketing campaigns telling us to shop more. This caused disasters like that of Rana Plaza, where 1334 people died in the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh. Most of the victims are mostly women. They are at the most risk with the globalization of the fashion supply chain, with an increased risk of violence, negligence, and oppression. She needed to merge her passion for fashion and my desire to create a sustainable future. It was the reason she started The UpCycle Project. The UpCycle Project was a platform that raises awareness of the waste that the fashion industry creates by making hands-on, circular solutions for design students. Working with students was an absolute magical experience. They knew that their designs will have an economic, social, and environmental impact. So she and her team made them work with unconventional materials, such as forgotten pieces from the dry cleaners, deadstock fabrics from different designers, and even bed sheets that are no longer used by different hotel groups, all of them truly embracing the sustainability lessons.
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