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Building Awareness via Fashion: World Water Day

Posted in Uncategorized by modman on March 22, 2010

Plenty of designers have been inspired by water in some form: crashing waves, fast-flowing rivers, violent rapids, trickling streams and quiet creeks. Despite having been inspired by one of the strongest elements, very few have brought awareness to the reality of usable water: its shortage.

The United Nations recognizes today as World Water Day. This years theme is “Clean Water for a Healthy World”. I learned this in middle school and it has stuck with me since: the earth is covered by 70-75% water, 97% is in the oceans and 1% is available for human use. The world population is approximately 6.7 billion and we live in a world that is controlled by private corporations and corrupt governments that control and limit access to basic necessities, like water and housing, and other resources.

There is a shortage of available drinking water in so many countries. Even if there is a water supply, most of it is contaminated with pollutants and other debris. Developing countries do not have strict laws that police water pollution. Industries that do pollute the water have no incentive not to. Because of the lack of drinking water, poverty-stricken villagers resort to taking in whatever water they can find, which results in water-borne illnesses. Diarrhea is a top infant killer, and “1.8 million children aged under five who succumb to water-borne diseases. This equates to one infant every 20 seconds” (csmonitor).

I can list fact after fact and reality after reality all day, but that wont do any good. People are stricken the moment they see a devastating picture or are horrified when they hear the number of deaths caused by diarrhea. But very few act on their emotions.

It is sometimes difficult for me to wrap my head around international issues like this.. especially because I feel that its so far removed from my life. This is exactly the wrong perception. Non-profit organizations such as charity water, the water project, and Drop in the Bucket help bring awareness, funds and sustainable practices to developing nations.

Leanne Marshall, winner of Project Runway’s season 5, showed a collection at Bryant Park that was entirely inspired by water and waves. A challenge from this season’s Project Runway was to create a piece that was inspired by the four elements: earth, air, fire, or water. If fashion can draw on inspiration of such powerful forces, imagine what fashion can do for humanitarian awareness.

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