Protecting people and planet: Why we’re joining forces with EJF

The Durham University Charity Fashion Show (DUCFS) has been the most profitable student-run charitable event in the UK for the last two years, campaigning to raise awareness about the most pressing issues for our generation. We, the 2019 executive committee, are determined to continue this trend in 2019 and to raise even more money for charity than ever before, topping last year’s record-breaking £106,000 raised for leading UK mental health charity, Mind.

What seemed obvious for this year’s DUCFS was the need to fuse the core aspects of ‘charity’ and ‘fashion’.  As a fashion show we have a responsibility to confront the environmental and humanitarian issues that surround the fast fashion industry. That is why this year we are overwhelmingly proud to support the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF). An incredible environmental charity which is also concerned with human rights abuses, EJF aims to secure lasting change for people and planet.

Environmental issues are at the forefront of current public discourse. The alarming problem of plastics in our oceans is more prevalent than ever, highlighted by David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet’ series, the most-watched TV show of 2017. A study from the World Economic Forum revealed that nine million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, a figure expected to double by 2030. Marine life is threatened; at least one hundred million marine mammals suffocate every year from plastic floating in the oceans.

From forest fires and droughts to floods and storms, extreme climate conditions are on the rise. Closer to home, we experienced a stiflingly hot summer with temperatures soaring to 35°C - the joint hottest summer on record.  The effects of climate change are more rampant and more perceptible than ever. It’s the time to act on it.

What is not so widely acknowledged is the devastatingly harmful impacts of the fashion industry on our environment. Fast fashion exists by relying on speed and low costs in order to meet changing fashion styles on a quarterly basis.

In recent years, demand for fashion has increased enormously, with 400% more clothing being bought each year, compared to twenty years ago. In turn, tonnes of waste pollute and abuse the earth. The fashion industry particularly affects water consumption, chemical pollution, energy use and human rights abuses, subjects which are core to EJF’s work.

EJF focus primarily on the following campaigns:

Oceans – protecting marine environments, biodiversity and livelihoods;

Climate – securing international protection for climate change refugees;

Pesticides – calling for an end to toxic pesticides;

Cotton – eradicating the human and environmental abuses associated with White Gold;

Activist Training – supporting tomorrow’s environmental defenders;

and most recently, their Plastic Promise.

EJF use film to produce hard-hitting reports about environmental and human rights abuses across the world. Through these films, they target decision makers and endeavour to change laws and policies for the greater good. With thirty members of staff based in eight countries leading their dynamic campaigns, EJF’s work is targeted and effective. What’s more, EJF work with the community to empower new environmental defenders. By working on a local level, the global call for change is strengthened.

Awareness and activism are fundamental to DUCFS 2019. We aim to promote this spirit of environmental activism amongst the Durham student population and further afield, through a year-long charitable venture. It’s not just a fashion show. It’s a movement, which together with EJF will get people thinking and talking about environmentalism and sustainability.

With twenty five Exec members, fifty models and the whole Durham student population, we hope to maximise fundraising. But, as well as a huge cheque, we’re aiming to raise awareness, encourage sustainable habits, and make positive changes to help save our people and planet.

EJF is at the heart of DUCFS, and we hope you will be too.

Scarlett Regan