UCI Law’s Environmental Law Clinic Students Launch Project to Fight Fast Fashion


Environmental Law Clinic Students
Environmental Law Clinic Students with one of their clothing drop-off boxes located in UCI Law's California Room

Unraveling Fast Fashion is a project by past and current students in the Environmental Law Clinic that aims to raise awareness about the negative impacts of fast fashion.

IRVINE, Calif. (Feb. 9, 2023) — University of California, Irvine School of Law’s Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) students are taking action to combat the harmful impact of fast fashion on the planet by collecting gently used clothing and hosting the ELC Thrift Swap event on February 28. As part of the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, ELC students are joining a worldwide initiative that works to connect legal clinics and raise awareness about the climate emergency, and this year’s theme is fast fashion.

"Fast fashion is such a large-scale problem because consumers often don't realize the cumulative impact. Almost everyone either shops at these retailers or knows someone who does," said Isabella Coye, former member of ELC and cofounder of ELC's fast fashion project. "When you consider this on a worldwide scale and realize that these clothes aren't made to last, you get a better sense of how massive the amount of textile waste really is." 

Every year, the average U.S. citizen produces over 100 pounds of textile waste, with most of this waste ending up in landfills or being burned. ELC students aim to reduce this waste by encouraging the UCI community to donate their used clothing items at on-campus donation bins located by EDU 1111, the California Room and throughout UCI student housing. The donation bins will be available through February 20.

On February 28, the ELC Thrift Swap will take place at the UCI Student Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The UCI community is invited to shop for second-hand attire and join the movement to combat the negative effects of fast fashion on the environment. The thrift swap is part of a larger event, partnered with UCI Sustainability Resource Center, called Sustainival, an annual fair that celebrates UCI's campus culture of sustainability. 

The UCI Environmental Law Clinic students are working to raise awareness about the harm of fast fashion and inspire others to make sustainable fashion choices. By choosing to shop at thrift stores, swap clothes with friends and neighbors, or participate in community clothing drives, ELC students strive to minimize their impact on the environment and advocate for a more circular economy where people have access to affordable and sustainable clothing.

“So very often, you throw away that shirt or pants that you bought half a year ago because it was not too expensive and it has gone out of trend," said Edward Joo, current ELC member.  "You probably thought that it was not such a big deal, but it turns out the amount of fast fashion clothes thrown away is currently responsible for more annual carbon emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Being that environmentally conscious consumer, sharing clothing you no longer need, and being a part of the Thrift Swap can be part of the first proactive steps you can take towards a green-friendly fashion industry.”

Read the ELC student's pamphlet about their upcoming event.

Environmental Law Clinic Students who were involved in the project:

Allyson Thompson (2022 fall semester)
Isabella Coye (2022 fall semester)
Joe Kitaj (2022 fall and 2023 spring semester)
EJ Gonzalez (2022 fall and 2023 spring semester)
“Edward” (Bonggeul) Joo (2023 spring semester)
Nathan Wong (2023 spring semester)
Zach Leonard (2023 spring semester)

About the UCI Environmental Law Clinic Students

Students in the Environmental Law Clinic take an early and active role representing clients in litigation and policy matters. Students advocate on behalf of clients in courts and before administrative tribunals, while also providing advice and counsel to clients regarding legislative, policy, and strategic matters. The clinic’s docket is diverse, spanning a wide range of environmental and natural resources law, covering local, regional and national issues. As a result, the clinic provides a rigorous and intellectually challenging educational experience with broad application for students beyond environmental law.

About the University of California, Irvine School of Law

The University of California, Irvine School of Law is a top, visionary law school that provides an innovative and comprehensive curriculum, prioritizes public service, and demonstrates a commitment to diversity within the legal profession. UCI Law students have completed more than 135,000 hours of pro bono work since 2009 in addition to UCI Law's Clinical Programs. Forty-eight percent of UCI Law's J.D. graduates are people of color. At UCI Law, we are driven to improve our local, national, and global communities by grappling with important issues as scholars, as practitioners, and as teachers who are preparing the next generation of leaders. The collaborative and interdisciplinary community at UCI Law includes extraordinary students, world-renowned faculty, dedicated staff, engaged alumni and enthusiastic supporters. More information on UCI Law is available here. Please follow us on Twitter @UCILaw, Facebook @UCIrvineLaw and Instagram @ucilaw.

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