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Environmental Professionals Network

School of Environment and Natural Resources


Designing Circular Economy Strategies from within the Textiles and Fashion Industries

Oct 10, 2023, 7:15am - 9:30am

Photo button from a collection of different images from the EPN Sept Breakfast

Directory of industry-based sustainability leaders and relationship map linked here.

Program Overview

This program will explore the impact of the fashion industry on the environment, and specifically circular economy strategies for waste stream reduction and sustainability in the textiles industry.

To the surprise of many, the apparel, textiles, and fashion industries produce a significant impact on our environment. For example, the average American consumes roughly 83 pounds of fiber materials for clothing (weight by pants and shirts) per year, requiring a corresponding 6,314 gallons of freshwater (or 125 personal baths) for these apparel purchases. From a greenhouse gas (GHG) perspective, the apparel industry, including the production of footwear, contributes 3,990 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year (nearly 8% of annual total global emissions, which is more than the shipping and aviation sectors combined!). 

A major driver of these GHG emissions occurs in the linear movement of clothing fiber (raw materials) production, fiber preparation, knitting and weaving, then the dyeing and finishing stages of the clothing materials, which are highly energy-intensive processes in both electric and heating categories. A comprehensive report in 20161, a source for much of the data reported here, suggested that, given consumer trends and economic conditions, the carbon footprint of fashion is expected to gain a 49% increase by 2030, equally affecting natural resource depletion and human health.

Reducing this impact will necessitate energy efficiency improvements and greater renewable adoption in the manufacturing sections of the supply chain, and – a very critical step – to implement circular economy measures (re-looping recycled fiber into the system). Stakeholders from across the industry, including brands, cities, philanthropists, NGOs, and innovators, will need to collaborate to cocreate a new textiles economy aligned with the principles of the circular economy2.

An internationally renowned panel of fashion and sustainability leaders, featuring Steven Bethell (co-founder, Bank & Vogue), Dr. Connie Ulasewicz (professor emerita of apparel design and merchandising, San Francisco State University), Carmen Gama (director of circular design, Eileen Fisher, Inc.), and Luke Henning (chief business officer, Circ), will join local moderators Dr. Tasha Lewis (Ohio State’s Department of Human Sciences), and Lisa Goldsand (Circular Thrift, LLC) will address the state of sustainability in the fashion industry and the role of policy in advancing sustainable business practices today and over a ten year horizon. This panel of experts will:  

  • Outline circular economy strategies for waste stream reduction and sustainability in the textiles industry.
  • Explain “upcycling” and how brands, consumers, and regulators can move toward increased sustainability in addressing post-consumer textile waste.
  • Provide circular product development examples featured at leading brands and the movement of brands from linear to circular models.
  • Discuss textile recycling and technology solutions to address textile waste.

Recognized as the United States’ “Third Capital of Fashion,” in recent years central Ohio as a region employs more fashion designers than any U.S. metro area outside of New York City and Los Angeles. Join the EPN and globally-recognized sustainability experts in this important dialogue on textiles, fashion, and circular economy strategies to benefit our region and our planet. 

Quantis, “Measuring Fashion: Environmental Impact of the Global Apparel and Footwear Industries Study. Full report and methodological considerations.” (2018) link here.

World Resources Institute {on behalf of the Science Based Targets initiative}, “Apparel and Footwear Sector: Science-Based Targets Guidance.” (n.d.) link here.


7:15 a.m. Doors open at Ohio State 4-H Center; Coffee served for in-person attendees.

7:40 a.m. Breakfast buffet served for in-person attendees.

8:00 a.m. Livestreaming service begins for virtual attendees.

8:10 a.m. Tim Haab, PhD, interim director, Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources provides welcome remarks; Tasha Lewis, PhD, clinical associate professor, Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, and Lisa Goldsand, Circular Thrift, LLC, outline circular economy strategies for waste stream reduction and sustainability in the textiles industry.

8:20 a.m. Steven Bethell, co-founder, Bank & Vogue (virtual), addresses “upcycling” and how brands, consumers, and regulators can move toward increased sustainability in addressing relevant post-consumer textiles.

8:30 a.m. Connie Ulasewicz, PhD, professor emerita of apparel design and merchandising, San Francisco State University, addresses the state of sustainability in the fashion industry today and the role of policy in advancing sustainable business practices.

8:40 a.m. Carmen Gama, director of circular design, Eileen Fisher, Inc. (virtual), presents on circular product development at Eileen Fisher and the movement of brands from linear to circular models.

8:50 a.m. Luke Henning, chief business officer, Circ (virtual), discusses textile recycling and technology solutions to address textile waste.

9:00 a.m. Expert dialogue on advancing sustainable business practices in the fashion industry between Bethell, Ulasewicz, Gama and Henning moderated by Lewis and Goldsand.

9:15 a.m. Live audience Q & A session for both in-person and virtual audiences

9:30 a.m. Dr. Haab concludes EPN Breakfast program component. Break and networking session for in-person guests. Livestreaming service concludes for virtual attendees.


Steven BethellSteven Bethell, co-founder, Bank & Vogue

As co-founder of the Bank and Vogue family of companies, Steven Bethell has been a thought leader and pioneer in the post-consumer textile space for over 20 years. He has dedicated his work life to innovative and relevant solutions to the crisis of stuff. Steven and his team have traveled to over 30 countries working extensively amongst the robust second-hand markets of the world. Steven is also the brainchild behind the largest remanufacturing plant in the world, where the circular economy for textiles is brought to life. Taking post-consumer waste and transforming it into relevant products, Steven works with big brands to help them bring their sustainability platforms to the next level, including advising Kourtney Kardashian Barker. In his spare time Steven lives off the grid in the Canadian wilderness. He is an avid woodsman, regenerative farmer and enjoys fishing, paddling and learning about the outdoors and its many wonders.

Carmen GamaCarmen Gama, director of circular design, Eileen Fisher, Inc.

Carmen Gama moved to NYC from Mexico to become a fashion designer. While pursuing a BFA at Parsons, she saw opportunities beyond front-end design into clothing’s next life — reclaiming value from discarded items to create sustainable circular design solutions. She currently serves as director of circular design for Eileen Fisher, setting up processes and finding scalable solutions to lead a circularity vision and strategy that positions Eileen Fisher as a leader in the circular economy. Carmen Gama is the co-founder of MAKE ANEEW, a company that helps brands develop “post-consumer operations” like take-back programs, resale, remanufacturing, repair, and fiber-to-fiber recycling. Gama has been featured in Women’s Wear Daily, The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar amongst others. 

Luke HenningLuke Henning, chief business officer, Circ

Luke Henning is the CBO of Circ, a company pioneering the (re)sourcing of fashions building blocks from waste. He is a finance and strategy professional who works on the challenge of financing the conversion to a circular economy. His career spans multiple industries including management consulting, banking and green chemistry which allows him to bring an outside lens to the textile industry. He earned his MBA from the Said Business School at the University of Oxford where he was one of the founders of the highly successful Oxford Seed Fund. Luke is deeply committed to building a better world. His advisory work focuses on supporting entrepreneurs and addressing issues of social inclusion and cohesiveness.

Lisa GoldsandLisa Goldsand, founder, Circular Thrift, LLC

Lisa Goldsand has lived and worked in North America, Asia, and, Central America. Throughout her career, Lisa has gained valuable on-the-ground experience through her work on end-to-end product development and supply chain management of apparel and personal care products for various international companies. With her deep understanding of how the industry operates, Lisa is passionate about the urgent need for a shift towards a more circular model to reduce the fashion industry’s impact on climate change and natural resource consumption. Lisa is piloting Circular Thrift, a hyper local solution to scale re-use. Circular Thrift’s mission is to make reuse more practical in your local neighborhood through convenient donation, drop off and pick- up services, and through community swap and thrift events.

Tasha LewisTasha Lewis, PhD, clinical associate professor, Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University

Tasha Lewis, PhD, is the Nina Mae Mattus Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Human Sciences, where she teaches courses in Fashion and Retail Studies. Prior to joining the College of Education and Human Ecology, she was an associate professor at Cornell University where she taught courses in fashion design management and served as a contributing faculty member for Bank of America’s Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship and eCornell. Lewis is widely published in journals such as the Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, Fashion Practice and the Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice. She has contributed to four textbooks: Sustainable Apparel, Global Perspectives on Sustainable Fashion, Successful Technological Integration for Competitive Advantage in Retail Settings and The Fashion Business Reader: An Interdisciplinary and Global Approach, both from Bloomsbury Publishing.

Constance UlasewiczConnie Ulasewicz, PhD, professor emerita of apparel design and merchandising, San Francisco State University, founder, CBUProductions

A global and domestic garment industry consultant & an Emeritus faculty of San Francisco State University, Dr. Ulasewicz has collaborated with many. She is the founder of CBU Productions, offering consulting, educating, and community building to create an awareness of social and environmental impacts of our clothing and textile choices and the need to take action now. ​She is an active member of ESRAP (Educators for Socially Responsible Apparel Practices) and STRAC (California Statewide Textile Recovery Advisory Committee). Her research, writing, speaking, and video production is aimed at understanding the true value of textile and clothing and the need for a circular clothing economy. ​Connie was Co-owner of the consulting firm GarmentoSpeak, and Co-Founder of Lewis & Lee, an infant accessory line, after her work in product design at Joannie Char, and sales and production at Esprit. Connie earned her BS in Education/Clothing & Textiles from Syracuse University, her MS in Historic Textiles from the University of Maryland, and her PhD in Human Development from Fielding Graduate University. 

Additional Information

This event’s menu features sausage patties, scrambled eggs, potato hash, and fresh fruit salad, Coffee, hot tea, fruit juices and water will be served. There will be plates, cups, woodware, and napkins.  

We strive to host events that are inclusive and accessible to everyone. If you have a disability and require accommodations to fully participate in this activity, please reach out to Callia Téllez ( Requests made five business days in advance will generally allow us to provide seamless access. However, we will make every effort to meet requests made after this time frame. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs. For the virtual audience, a closed captioning option via EPN’s YouTube live stream will be available, as well as other accommodations as requested on the registration.

Masks are optional for all event attendees at this event, in accordance with Ohio State’s Safe and Healthy Protocols as of this date. In-person attendees will be expected to follow Ohio State protocols regarding the prevention of COVID-19 transmission. More health and safety information available on this Personal Safety Practices page

This program will be livestreamed on the  EPN YouTube page. Additional information on livestream connections are available to those who register as a virtual participant for this event.