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Egypt to present sustainable fashion project at COP27

Green Fashion, a start-up environmental and social initiative, will be showcasing its ideas at the COP27 that Egypt will be hosting.
Hadeer Shalaby, the founder of the Green Fashion Initiative, appears with models of green recycled clothing.

The Egyptian Ministry of Environment will be presenting the Green Fashion initiative at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), which Egypt will host in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh on Nov. 6-18.

The Green Fashion initiative is an environmental and social project founded by three Egyptian youths in 2018 with the aim to spread awareness of the importance of sustainable fashion. 

The initiative’s ideas and products will be showcased in the Green Zone at the COP27 premises as part of the platform of the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology

The Ministry of Environment had set up the Green Zone in Sharm el-Sheikh to host the events of the COP27, where the business community, youths, civil society, indigenous people, academia, artists and fashion communities from around the world can express themselves during the summit.

Speaking about Green Fashion, Hadeer Shalaby, one of the founders of the initiative, told Al-Monitor that the idea behind the project came from her village in Menoufia governorate, north of Cairo, where many women work in the garment industry in factories far from their homes. 

She said that the garment factories in the governorate produce huge amounts of cut-offs that are disposed of by burial or burning, both harmful to the environment.

Shalaby said she thought about launching a project that would have a positive environmental and social impact, ensure job opportunities for the village’s women and provide recycled products from factory waste in fashionable forms and at reasonable prices.

The idea was also to spread awareness about the environmental risks of fast fashion among university youth and fashion designers, she noted.

“All clothing production stages of the initiative are eco-friendly, starting from collecting waste from clothing factories near our project’s workshops, using solar-powered sewing machines, using dyes from natural materials and rationalizing water use. Our workers also come from places nearby, which reduces the need for means of transportation,” Shalaby added.

Shyreen Sabry, official spokesperson for the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, told Al-Monitor, “The Green Fashion initiative received support from the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, which included it in Egypt's Entrepreneurship Development Project in cooperation with the African Development Bank, and qualified it to participate at the COP27.”

Commissioned by the Ministry of Higher Education, the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology undertakes initiatives and programs to support research, development and innovation projects that contribute to adapting to climate change, among other types of projects.

Shalaby noted that since its inception, the Green Fashion project was able to employ 50 women who produced more than 60,000 environmentally friendly pieces. “Green Fashion won prizes in more than one competition as the best emerging environmental project with a positive impact on society. Now we are registering a patent for a biodegradable product, which is the focus of our participation in the COP27,” she said.

The fashion industry relies heavily on petrochemical products and is responsible for up to 10% of the world's total production of greenhouse gas emissions and a fifth of the amount of plastic produced globally each year. Around 20% of wastewater worldwide comes from fabric dyeing and treatment. In contrast, only a fraction of what is manufactured in the fashion industry is recycled; 87% of the total fiber input used for clothing is incinerated or disposed of in a landfill.

Noha Zahran, Egyptian fashion designer who supports sustainable fashion, stressed the importance of spreading awareness among consumers about the need to pressure fast fashion brands to use sustainable products

She told Al-Monitor, “They [fast fashion brands] must change their wasteful production methods, invest in natural raw materials such as cotton, linen and silk, and recycle to reduce resource consumption.”

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