An informal garment factory located on the outskirts of the center of Dhaka.

For an industry that is reliant on change for its livelihood, the fashion sector, for the most part, has been sluggish in embracing environmentalism.

To try to do something about how the speed of fashion takes its toll on nature, green-minded leaders will gather Nov. 1 for the first “Change Fashion” conference at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen. The four-day series of talks and events is being spearheaded by the National Resources Defense Council’s Linda Greer. The NRDC is made up of more than three million members and online activists. Panel discussions and presentations will be geared toward information-sharing and networking. One aim will be to amp up the public’s awareness of the global environmental crisis.

Greer will be part of an opening-day panel discussion featuring Parsons School of Design’s Joel Towers, Mara Hoffman and the CFDA’s Sara Kozlowski. The Nov. 2 lineup will include the BlockApps-presented “Transforming Supply Chains — Block by Block” with BlockApps’ Kelly Hunt, Future Tech Labs’ Amanda Parkes, Refashiond’s Lisa Morales-Hellebo and Columbia Business School’s R.A. Farrokhnia.

An estimated $500 billion worth of clothing that is barely worn and rarely recycled is lost annually. In simpler math, the average U.S. citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing each year.

Greer noted in a post last year, “The NRDC’s Clean by Design program has demonstrated over and over again, at apparel factories in China and Bangladesh, there are many simple opportunities to cut energy and water use and reduce pollution while saving money at the same time. Companies can thus profit in both the near and long term while they reduce their environmental footprint.”

Next week’s Change Fashion crowd will get more than an earful about the apparel industry’s toll on the environment, the need for change and technological ways that address those critical issues. Should attendees need further incentive for change, there is the recent release of the United Nations’ report on climate change. Among other things, that spelled out there are 12 years to reduce climate change. Shifting weather patterns that threaten food production and rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding are a few of the global impacts of climate change that are “unprecedented in scale,” according to the report. Next week’s gathering for fashion types, consumers and students is designed to create a conversation that will continue after the final speaker exits the podium.

The event will also have an installation created by the Soze Agency to highlight the environmental impact that garment manufacturing has on water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, energy usage and other natural resources.

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