King student Peri Ferguson ’22 was selected from over 500 students to receive a Global Online Academy Citation Award at the Catalyst Conference for her project on extending the life of clothing to reduce global waste. King School is one of 96 schools worldwide that participates in the Global Online Academy (GOA) consortium. The conference, which took place from April 22 to 26, is a virtual event where students in the GOA consortium present their capstone projects on research-based solutions to real-world issues.
The GOA Citation Award highlights the projects that best represent the goals of the conference: to raise awareness of a global issue, promote grassroots action, and spark change in the community.
Peri's project centers around the problem of “fast fashion,” which she explains is "a recent phenomenon in which companies mass-produce trendy clothing that is cheap and not made for longevity. Because the clothing is so cheaply made, [and sold at lower prices], people throw out their clothing at a much higher rate because they can easily replace it with new fast fashion merchandise." Her research cites alarming data from the New York Times, highlighting that 85% of clothes end up in landfills and take much longer to decay due to the increase of synthetic fabrics used in fast fashion.
While most people view donating clothes as an alternative to preventing waste, Peri's research indicates that many donations from thrift stores or donation centers still end up in landfills if they are damaged and deemed unfit for sale. "The materials from most of these discarded items of clothing are actually still usable and can be upcycled or recycled to create new products...It just needs to be used in a different way," she suggests.
Her project proposes a partnership between thrift stores and major donation centers to collect discarded clothing and repurpose fabrics by turning them into purses and handbags that can be "resold and re-loved." "This combines my research topic with something I really enjoy – sewing and designing. I chose to focus on creating bags because their patterns are relatively easy to sew compared to different items of clothing and because they can be made out of a variety of different fabrics. They also are usually used for a long time; People throw out clothing more often than bags or purses," Peri noted.
Peri's complete project presentation is featured on the GOA Catalyst Conference website.