A three trillion dollar industry, fashion is responsible for 20% of the global wastewater generated through pesticides for land cultivation, dyes and textiles – which often flows back into the ocean. The Ocean Decade endorsed Activity “Ocean Flag”, showcased during the 2022 UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, aims to bridge the gap between fashion’s environmental pollution and educating the public on the detriments of climate change on the ocean through the lens of fashion.
Building on educational and training programs to encourage public participation in addressing climate change and its effects, the Ocean Flag creates awareness and facilitates the exchange of information across all sectors of society to develop meaningful responses for ocean health.
The materialization of this initiative literally takes the form of an actual flag made of various pieces of clothing that would otherwise have ended up in landfill. These fabrics are then upcycled and converted into canvases upon which individuals create their pledges towards ocean action. Participants write and sign their commitments, some even draw.
Runa Ray, leader of the initiative, brought the Ocean Flag to display at the 2022 UN Ocean Conference to help get people mobilized, inspired and educated for ocean action.
“A signature is the most basic form of artistic expression… When elaborated into a word, a sentence or even an artwork, that signature is expanded and finds its place in history and becomes a commitment,” she said.
By changing consumer behavior, growing coalitions, collaborating with governments and cross-sectoral organizations, the Ocean Flag is creating a wealth of commitments towards the ocean, encouraging ocean literacy – and reversing the trend on fashion’s waste.