Made in Forests: Eco-friendly “star threads” for actress Michelle Yeoh in new UN video
UN Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador spotlights sustainable forest-based fashion at High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development
Malaysian-born film star and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh has attended the High-level Political Forum in New York on Monday to put the spotlight on the role that clothing manufacture and consumer fashion can have for a better planet with a new video, called “Made in Forests.”
“The connection between our clothes and our impact on the environment doesn’t immediately come to mind”, the award-winning actor said. “If a jacket or a skirt or a dress looks good, and we can afford it, we buy it. But the environment pays the price.”
In her new video, which will be presented to world leaders at the High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development in New York, Yeoh sets out to find out “what sustainable fashion could look like, without compromising the beauty of our clothes.” One answer: high-fashion produced with certified sustainable new generation forest-based fabrics.
“Made in Forests” is an 8-minute video produced by the UN Economic Commission for Europe / Food and Agriculture Organization’s (UNECE/FAO) Forestry and Timber Section together with the United Nations Television in Geneva.
Following Michelle Yeoh on her journey to find an outfit that does not harm the planet, the video takes us to Italy’s Cittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T. – an art foundation that promotes sustainable fashion design through art and education. Here young design talent Tiziano Guardini creates a beautiful dress for her entirely made of certified sustainable wood-based fibres. Michelle wore the dress in New York today at the launch of the movie.
“Given its ecological footprint, today’s fashion is an environmental emergency,” says Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe. “We need to move from a fashion sector with a high impact on the planet to one that is inspired and uses natural resources sustainably. Forests can help this transition,” Algayerova says.
“Made in Forests” highlights how conventional material choices rely predominantly on cotton and polyester – two materials with a high environmental impact. Cotton uses large amounts pesticides and insecticides, and very large amounts of water. Polyester is made from fossil fuels: each time polyester clothes are washed they release tiny plastic microfibers that often end up in the oceans, harming marine life and polluting our food chain.
New research and technology innovations provide a promising opportunity: environmentally-friendly wood-based fibres from certified sustainably managed forests. These fibres produce recyclable, renewable and biodegradable textiles, which require considerably less energy and water in their production compared to cotton and synthetic fibres.
Through certification, consumers and companies can make responsible choices and use their purchasing power to support the sustainable management of the world’s forests. Building trust in forest products creates additional demand, and ultimately also increases the value of forests.
Creating additional value is one of the best ways to keep forests standing, UNECE/FAO experts say, as it prevents them from being cleared for alternative, unsustainable land uses. Maintaining forests and creating sustainable forest value chains is critical for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The “Made in Forests” video production is part of the Geneva-based UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section’s work on sustainable fashion and forest-based fibres. Together with other partners such as UN Forum on Forests, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), and Cittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T. and young designers from Europe, the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section is also organizing the exhibition titled “Forests for Fashion.” The exhibit showcases the fashion creations of talented designers working with wood-based fibres, and can be viewed on the premises of the High Level Political Forum in New York this week.
Currently shooting for a new season for “Star Trek: Discovery”, Michelle Yeoh says that the production of the UN video “Made in Forests” opened her eyes to the need to make new choices being made in the world of fashion. “Sustainable fashion isn’t some futuristic idea for people on another galaxy,” she said. “It’s a choice we all need to be aware of, here and now, for a better life on our planet.”