Running to September 2021, the Sustainable Materials In The Creative Industries (SMICI) project delves into current sustainable practice across the creative industries generally, looking at sourcing, plus the use, disposal and recycling of materials - from silversmithing to digital equipment. The study will also pick out examples of innovative sustainability initiatives around the world.
Dr Jules Findley - Principal Lecturer in the School of Art - will focus on the fashion industry's particularly damaging record with regard to sustainability. The sector is among the largest polluters in the world - according to UN data, contributing 10% of global greenhouse emissions due to long supply chains, energy intensive production and wastefulness. For example, the industry uses an estimated 20,000 litres of water to make cotton for just one T-shirt and a pair of jeans.
Dr Findley said: “The fashion industry – and, in particular, textiles - needs to literally clean up their act. There are many changes that need to happen, especially where buyers purchase products in the global markets. There is an urgent need to re-educate the consumer.”
Changing consumer attitudes is crucial given figures showing the average person is buying 60 percent more garments than 15 years ago, yet keeping each item half as long.
The SMICI project is being led by Dr Peter Oakley, Reader in Material Culture at the Royal College of Art, as well as researchers from the University of Edinburgh and University of Plymouth. The project team is being supported by advisors from the School of Advanced Studies at the University of London and Birmingham City University.