Green is the New Black: Integrating Sustainable Clothing at the Dalhousie Bookstore
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This project is designed to understand student perceptions surrounding the environmental and social benefits of integrating sustainable clothing options into the Dalhousie Bookstore. This research topic was selected because of the growing awareness of the concerning environmental and social impacts of the clothing and textile industry. Dalhousie has an opportunity to create valuable change by considering the origins of their official apparel and moving away from unsustainable suppliers. For this research project, sustainable clothing is defined as clothing which is ethically sourced, both in materials and production standards. This means being manufactured as locally as possible, ensuring adequate working conditions, and participating in environmentally friendly production practices. Clothing materials should be manufactured without the use of harmful pesticides or chemicals. Clothing should be made from recycled materials where possible or be previously owned in order to mitigate environmental impacts of producing new items. A mixed method approach was used to determine student perceptions of sustainable clothing at Dalhousie. Quantitative data was collected via google forms, an online survey platform. The survey evaluated students’ attitudes and knowledge of the clothing and textile industry. Qualitative data was collected through an audit of the clothing currently offered at the Dalhousie Bookstore to determine the manufacturing location and socio-environmental practices of the supplier. The most important finding of the research show that Dalhousie students would like to purchase second hand clothing at the Dalhousie Bookstore, and that students are willing to pay between 10-20% more for sustainable options, relative to what they pay now for Dalhousie branded apparel. Most of the clothing currently offered at the Bookstore is manufactured in Asia and South America, with difficult to trace supply chains. As a result of this research, it is recommended that the Dalhousie Bookstore sells secondhand apparel and replaces current suppliers with more sustainable options. In addition, the University should consider running an educational campaign on the impacts of the clothing and textile industry in order to encourage students to be more aware of their clothing purchases.