PhD student ticks a life goal off the list as her project is approved by UN

Fri, 09 Jul 2021 17:23:00 BST
Image of Emma Kidd (left) Fashion Detox Project featured on United Nations website (right)
Image of Emma Kidd (left) Fashion Detox Project featured on United Nations website (right)

A GCU student’s work has been chosen by the United Nations as official ‘Best Practise’ for Sustainable Development Goals.

PhD researcher Emma Kidd launched her Fashion Detox Project in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University in 2019 and the initiative has gained support and attention from organisations and media outlets across the globe.

The project ‘invites people who usually buy clothing often to stop buying clothes for 10 weeks and to reflect on this process online in a private forum’ sharing their experience with other participants.

Staff and students at The University have taken part in the project since it’s launch in early 2019 and a website has been created for members of the public to get involved at any time.

Emma discussed how the United Nations have selected the programme to be listed on their website as an example of a sustainable initiative that companies or individuals can use to achieve sustainable development goals.

Emma said; “One of the professors, Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas, was aware of my work and when a call for ‘Best Practices’ came up through GCU she highlighted my project and suggested that it might be a good fit.

So, I submitted a case study that summarised what the project is, and I sent it off and didn’t really think anything of it.

Next thing we found out we were included and I just can’t even describe what that means to me because it’s everything that this project was geared towards.”

Emma explained how this project aims to let everyone have a chance to work towards becoming more environmentally friendly– given that large organisations often set out over-ambitious sustainability goals without giving advice on how to actually start making changes.

She explained; “We’re always being told what the goals are and where we’re headed but not how to get there.

So, for them to recognise the value in this, and that this is a valid way to achieve change, is absolutely amazing.

I’ve always tried to tell people the project is really inclusive and accessible – you don’t need anything really to do this apart from a group of people who are motivated.

You don’t need technology, you don’t need finances, and now it’s there and available to the world – to develop it, or copy it or to join us!”

The news of the United Nation’s decision to house this project on their website came shortly after The Fashion Detox Challenge was awarded ‘Best Paper on sustainability’ from the Global Fashion Conference 2021.

Emma shared how this award came as another stamp of approval from an established institution – to further develop the project’s credibility.

She said; “I attended the last conference in London two years ago and I felt a bit unworthy – from reading all the researchers’ papers, and seeing people there from Stella McCartney and all the luxury fashion groups presenting on the stage.

I had also submitted an abstract for that conference and it didn’t get accepted so I didn’t even get to present at that one, so that gives you an idea of the contrast.

This year, I decided to send a meaty paper with all of the finding from The Fashion Detox – and that’s what they reviewed and selected as the winner for this particular category.”

Aside from Emma’s theoretical findings in working on this project over the last few years, we asked what are some of the things she has witnessed GCU students learn from taking part in the Fashion Detox Challenge – and in general learning about sustainable fashion.

She said; “Buying less actually reduces your stress – and I would go as far to say increases your well-being.

Participants continue to realise that they buy – especially online – through boredom or not knowing what to do with themselves, or having a crap day at work or just not feeling great.

So, an overwhelming theme has been just buying to feel better – or to meet what you think the external pressures want you to do.

Like when you’re worried to be seen in the same outfit more than once or you’re worried about what your friends will think or what your followers will think.

Actually, the people who take part in the challenge realise that nobody actually cares!”

Emma added; “So, that was a massive shift in perspective, and with that came loads of freedom and liberation, so you reduce loads of stress, stress on your bank and your time – and you gain so much more and find other ways to spend your time.”

To find out all about The Fashion Detox Challenge and how you can take part visit the website.

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