South Africa
Sustainable fashion
Has Attachment
Posted by Danville Park Girls' High School, South Africa on 19 August 2015
Fashion from waste entrants
Fashion from waste entrants


Research was done by the Environmental Society on the water footprint of fashion. Pupils realised that there is invisible water hidden in everything we use, including the clothes we wear. This is called secret water. With regards fashion, lots water is needed to grow the crops (e.g. cotton) needed to make the fabric and lots of harmful pesticides are used on the crop which pollutes water supplies and therefore threatens fresh water supplies. Also harmful chemicals and bleaches are used during manufacture which also threaten fresh water supplies.


Pupils researched how fabrics are made. Pupil’s research showed that certain fabrics use less water and cause less water pollution. The worst offender is cotton. Cotton is a very thirsty crop and is the least environmentally friendly with respect to water. One cotton tea shirt uses 2700 litres of water to produce. One pair of jeans uses 10 000 litres of water to produce. Nylon, polyester and viscose also uses and pollutes lots of water. Materials that have a smaller footprint include organic cotton contaminates water less as no pesticides are used. Other more sustainable materials include hemp, bamboo, linen or recycled polyester.   


Pupils came up with the following ways to reduce the water footprint of fashion and to reduce water pollution by fashion:

  • Buy only what you need
  • Buy good quality clothes that will last
  • Recycle and reuse clothes
  • Buy eco-friendly clothes
  • Swap clothes
  • Buy second hand clothes from charity shops
  • Buy vintage clothes (vintage clothes are in fashion, so pupils were keen to put this into practice)
  • Buy sustainable materials


The Environmental Society then decided to organise a fashion from waste competition to highlight sustainable fashion which was open to the whole school. There were 15 entrants from all grades. Entrants had to design fashion items out of waste and these were showcased twice at school – once at a variety show in front of the school (500 pupils) which was held to raise money for our general assistants and also at our water festival. 880 people attended our water festival. Prizes were given for the best 3 entries.


To tie in with our fashion from waste challenge, a short video on sustainable fashion was also shown at our water festival – which had a huge impact on the audience.


A display was put up in the MPC for our water festival and the ways to reduce the water footprint of fashion and to reduce water pollution were displayed.

Local Partner African Conservation Trust

Water Explorer is a Global Action Plan initiative
in association with
22.00 MB