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Jersey fashion student calls out industry's water consumption

Jersey fashion student calls out industry's water consumption

Thursday 02 November 2023

Jersey fashion student calls out industry's water consumption

Thursday 02 November 2023

A Jersey teen who learnt to make her own clothes during lockdown – and even made her own prom dress – is using the power of art to call to draw attention to how much water the industry uses.

JCG student Ava Le Cornu aspires to study fashion, with a particular focus on environment and garment construction, so the project was a perfect fit for her EPQ – an 'extended project qualification' which students can undertake alongside their A-levels.

"I love to see how garments are constructed and I make a lot of clothes myself," she said.

From a hat... to a prom dress

It was during lockdown that Ava became interested in fashion design, asking her mum to bring her old sewing machine down from the attic. 

Working her way up from her first project, a hat, she made her own prom dress last year – which she described as "my first big step in making something which I wore".

With her project, Ava wanted to highlight a lesser-known part of fashion's environmental impact.

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Pictured: 17-year-old Ava Le Cornu is studying fashion, biology and chemistry at A-level. (JCG)

After gathering clothing items from charity shops, she researched how much water goes into their production and sewed and cross-stitched the figures on each article.

She then hung the items – including jeans, a jumper, a pair of socks and a sheet – on a washing line to display them at the Dome, the school's canteen.

Surveying around 300 people before and after they had seen the display, she found that most respondents didn't know much about the issue at first, but that her display had helped build their awareness.

"We need to educate people"

"The fashion industry uses a lot of water, and we need to educate people on how to face this issue," Ava said.

"There are many consequences caused by our fashion industry. One of which is water scarcity; freshwater sources are depleting due to the enormous demand from the fashion industry and water is being taken from already water-stressed regions.

"For example, 2 billion people are already affected by water shortages in over 40 countries. This insufficiency has a damaging effect on local communities, limiting their access to clean drinking water and agricultural practices, and setting up a cycle of poverty and inequality."

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 Pictured: Ava's project is on display at the Dome, JCG's cafeteria. (JCG)

"Secondly, the pollution from the fashion industry, including hazardous chemicals and dyes can find its way into water bodies such as lakes filled with aquatic ecosystems, distrusting their habitat, and damaging marine life, as well as compromising the quality of water resources, which affects not only aquatic life but human population," she added.

Ava's sustainable shopping tips...

So, what would the student advise fashion-conscious islanders to do?

Ava said that she gets most of what she wears in charity shops and JCG's clothes swaps.

"There are not many shops for my age group in Jersey," she explained.

In addition to making the most of second-hand stores, Ava suggested that people think about the purchases they make from mainstream shops.

"Make sure it's something you're going to wear a long time – almost like a capsule wardrobe – and that you won't get rid of for a long time.

"If you're still younger and growing, look at charity shops."

Pictured - top: Ava Le Cornu researched the amount of water needed to produce each garment, displaying what she found on the items themselves (JCG)

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