Monique Taffe, a 22-year-old London-based fashion designer,
makes clothing from recycled textiles and objects. Credit: A.D.
By A. D. McKenzie
PARIS, Feb 22 2019 (IPS)
As the grandchild of Jamaican citizens who moved to Great
Britain, Monique Taffe says she inherited a tradition of recycling
and learned not to be part of the “throwaway culture”, as some
environmentalists have labelled consumerist societies.
“I saw how my grandmother re-used things, and that was passed
down to my mother who inspired me to do the same,” said Taffe,
who wants to use waste materials and recycled fabrics in fashion
The 22-year-old London-based designer is a recent graduate of a
British fashion school and she participated the 3rd
Women4Climate conference that took place Feb. 21 in Paris. She
joined other young women from around the world, including from
several Latin American countries, who have launched sustainability
projects and are being mentored by member cities of C40, a network
of 94 “megacities” committed to addressing climate change –
and which co-organised the conference titled “Take the
Taffe has started a project to design maternity sportswear,
encouraging expectant mothers to exercise during their pregnancy.
All the clothing is being made from recycled textiles and objects
at her Taffe Jones startup company, she told IPS.
She is also one of 10 finalists from some 450 contestants for
London’s Mayors Entrepreneur Programme 2018, in which the city
linked to the Women4Climate Mentoring Programme. The aim is to
develop innovative businesses that are meant to tackle climate
“Women leaders played a pivotal role in negotiating the Paris
Agreement on climate change in 2015 and will be crucial to its
success in the future,” says Women4Climate, which was launched in
2016. “Now more than ever, enhancing women’s participation and
leadership will be critical to securing a healthy, prosperous and
sustainable future for us all.”
Taffe said in an interview that she would like to see young
people in Britain, the Caribbean and around the world getting
together via social media to share best practices for textile
recycling. This could include information about leaving used
clothing in central depots or designated places, where designers
and others could retrieve material. Recycling in the fashion
industry could have a positive environmental impact, as the sector
is one of the most polluting, according to experts.
The United Nations
Environment Programme says that the fashion industry
“produces 20 percent of global wastewater and 10 percent of
global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and
maritime shipping.” The agency adds that “textile dyeing is the
second largest polluter of water globally and it takes around 2,000
gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans”.
At the U.N. Environment Assembly next month, the agency will
“formally launch the U.N. Alliance on Sustainable Fashion to
encourage the private sector, governments and non-governmental
organisations to create an industry-wide push for action to reduce
fashion’s negative social, economic and environmental impact,”
the U.N. says.
With clothing factories across Latin America and the Caribbean,
this is an area that environmentalists are addressing as well, with
organisations saying that the main focus is on waste management,
including textiles and plastics that pollute the region’s
The Jamaica Environmental Trust, an NGO based in Kingston,
emphasises recycling, conducts beach clean-ups with volunteers, and
works to protect air and water quality, a spokesperson told IPS.
Its leadership team consists mostly of young women, like Taffe, who
work to sensitise the public to environmental and climate
“Raising awareness will help other young people to see
what’s being done and make it easier for us to form alliances for
climate action,” Taffe said.
She and other observers have noted the measures taken in the
Caribbean to ban single-use plastic bags and straws and to expand
the use of solar power. The Jamaican government, for instance,
announced last year that it wants the country to reach 50 percent
renewable energy by 2030, up from the previous policy of 30
Although no Caribbean city is a member of C40, attending
international conferences such as Women4Climate was one way of
bringing ecological entrepreneurs together to share experiences,
In fact, forming international links was a central theme of the
event, hosted by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo (the initiator of the
Women4Climate idea) and held in the French capital’s imposing
city hall – flanked by the blue and green bicycles of the
city’s bike-sharing scheme.
Representing cities such as Quito (Ecuador), Mexico City, and
Santiago (Chile), Taffe and other women from around the world
shared projects on sustainability and carbon-emissions reduction.
They described ventures to improve species conservation in towns,
understand and stop urban sprawl, transform restaurant waste into
biogas and increase textile recycling.
Young innovators also presented technology solutions in a
Women4Climate Tech Challenge.
“Climate change often has impact first on the lives of women
… who traditionally are the ones taking care of the family, so
women’s skills should be acknowledged,” said Hidalgo at the
conference. “This is not to say women are better than men but
that women have different skills and competences that are crucial
in the fight against climate change.”
Hidalgo said policy makers and activists had to “think locally
to act globally”.
Participants in the conference included women mayors from
several cities – Freetown, Sierra Leone; Charlotte, North
Carolina; Dakar, Senegal; and Sydney, Australia – alongside
several male mayors working to address climate change.
“We cannot fight against climate change effectively without
empowering women,” said Rodacio Rodas, the mayor of Quito. He
described food-security and urban garden projects that employ women
and added that at the “community” level, women could be
empowered and could empower themselves to take action.
Many delegates, however, highlighted the lack of national
support for climate action by some male leaders, with Clover Moore,
the Lord Mayor of Sydney, deploring the global effects of
“We’re as devastated across the world by Trump as you are in
the U.S.,” Moore said, referring to the U.S. president’s lack
of support for the Paris Agreement on climate change, but she added
that the prime minister of Australia was not “much better”.
“It’s very depressing times, but we don’t despair … we
fully support our young community coming out and telling our
national government to act responsibility. Full strength to our
In a movement known as “Youth Strike 4 Climate”, led by
Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, students in several countries have
been staying out of school on certain days to protest inaction by
their governments against global warming. “Young people see
what’s happening, they know the science,” Moore said.
Student participants at the Women4Climate conference included
17-year-old Youna Marette, a Belgian high school activist who was
one of the keynote speakers.
“We’ll continue to fight, strike … for our future,”
Marette declared, urging governments to create more inclusive
societies and to increase action to protect the planet.
For Taffe, the up-and-coming designer, thinking of the future
and a liveable world is a strong motivation. “My grandmother
passed down ways to live sustainably, and I want to carry that
on,” she told IPS. “We have to re-use and recycle and do what
we can wherever we live.”
Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Taking the Lead in Fight Against Climate Change