How Rewearing a Dress on the Red Carpet Can Actually Help Save the Planet

It’s Hollywood’s biggest night, but will celebrities use the Oscars to raise awareness for climate change?

Last week, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts took an opportunity to promote sustainability, encouraging attendees of its awards ceremony on Feb. 2 to  either rewear or rent an outfit for the red carpet — as opposed to buying something new. In an effort to create a carbon neutral awards ceremony, the BAFTAs also sent out a sustainable fashion guide created by the London College of Fashion.

“The facts speak for themselves; textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined, consumes lake-size volumes of fresh water and creates deadly chemical and plastic pollution” the guide read.

Even though the guide provided the names of renting services and reselling sites in the U.K., along with a list of eco-friendly brands to support, it wasn’t enough to turn the red carpet green.

However, as climate change continues to confront the global citizens, those with platforms are increasingly using their voices to create small and large changes.

Schutz, for example, is making it easier for consumers to shop consciously. The shoe brand teamed up with styling and rental service Armarium to create an “awards season bungalow” in L.A. at the Schutz Beverly Hills location. The pop-up offers a curated edit of shoes and an exclusive capsule for purchase as well as high-fashion dresses to rent up until Oscar night.

Marina Larroude, head of Schutz International, said, “I’m a huge believer in renting, reducing excess from our lives, shopping consciously and reselling. Women like Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama have shown the world that we can and should rewear things. There is nothing chicer than a good repeat.”

Middleton is a good example. The Duchess of Cambridge recycled an Alexander McQueen dress that she had originally worn in 2012 to the 2020 BAFTAs. Plus, actor and producer Joaquin Phoenix has continued his commitment this awards season after vowing to wear the same Stella McCartney tux for every event.

kate middleton, alexander mcqueen dress, white and gold gown, celebrity style, red carpet, gold pumps, Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge73rd British Academy Film Awards, Arrivals, Royal Albert Hall, London, UK - 02 Feb 2020Wearing Alexander McQueen, Worn beforePrince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge73rd British Academy Film Awards, Arrivals, Royal Albert Hall, London, UK - 02 Feb 2020Wearing Alexander McQueen, Worn before
Prince William and Kate Middleton at the 2020 BAFTAs.
CREDIT: Anthony Harvey/Shutterstock

In addition, Thredup penned a letter to Oscar attendees urging them to rewear previous garments this year, too.

“We learned that dresses are some of the most carbon-intensive items to produce, and the biggest culprits of single-use fashion,” read the letter from Thredup, one of the largest online apparel resale marketplaces. “If everyone in the U.S. wore their garments at least five more times, it would save 40 billion pounds of CO2e annually. That’s the equivalent of taking 1.4 million cars off the road for an entire day.”

Thredup said it upcycled its 100-millionth item in 2019, which displaced 870,000 tons of CO2 and $7.5B in total retail value. Lowering one’s carbon footprint, or reducing the amount of CO2 emissions (a greenhouse gas) that enters the atmosphere, is key to making a personal impact on the planet. And, as part of its contributions to the larger goal of greater eco-consciousness, Thredup has provided data and other informational resources to help consumers learn how to extend the life of their clothes, which can combat fashion waste.

For instance, according to a 2019 Thredup report, the average consumer buys 66 garments a year. If 80% of these garments were purchased as used items it would prevent the creation of 527 lbs of CO2. Also, if dresses were worn at least five times more than their average of seven times in a lifetime, it would prevent the formation of 60 pounds of CO2, suggested a carbon study commissioned by independent research firm Green Story Inc.

Joaquin Phoenix26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Arrivals, Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, USA - 19 Jan 2020
Joaquin Phoenix at the 2020 SAG Awards, rewearing his Stella McCartney tuxedo.
CREDIT: Rob Latour/Variety/Shutterstock

“Rewearing clothing and keeping it in use is one the simplest solutions we can all take part in,” said Thredup VP of integrated marketing Erin Wallace. “Returning one item back into the circular economy extends its life by an average of 2.2 years and reduces its carbon, waste and water footprint by 82%.” She added, “In a spotlight like the red carpet, celebrities with millions of eyes watching them have the power to set an example for the entire world. These are the kinds of moments that can begin to make major shifts in our culture.”

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