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Students Work Towards More Sustainable Industry Through Greater Good Textile Group

Greater Good Textile Group members

By Destry Adams

From discussing the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013 to hosting the Clothing Swap, the Greater Good Textile Group finds ways to raise awareness about sustainability and workers’ rights in the fashion and textile industry.

Claire Henson, a senior studying textile engineering, is currently the president of this club. She says the organization will discuss new technologies or methods that make the textile industry more viable and bring awareness to problems many workers face.

“Some more specific topics we’ve talked about are alternative fibers; we’ve talked about hemp, we’ve talked about using mushrooms to grow leather,” Henson says. “We talked about the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013, a garment factory that collapsed because of cracks in the building.”

During these discussions, the club will sometimes watch documentaries, talk about students’ Senior Design projects and how they relate to sustainability, invite speakers or have different members present about a topic of interest.

In addition to having these conversations, the club hosts a variety of events. One of the most popular ones is the Clothing Swap. For this event, there is a period of time where anyone can give away some of their clothes, and one of the event organizers keeps track of the number of articles of clothing a person donated.

After the donation period, participants can return and pick a certain number of clothes based on how much they donated. A person may also pay $1 for each article of clothing if they did not donate any items.

Another event the club hosts is the Sustainable Business Forum.This event is an open panel where local textile and fashion businesses talk about their products and how they are promoting sustainability in the industry. Club members and the attending audience can ask the guest panelist a variety of questions.

“It’s just a really great way of seeing local businesses promote sustainability and how you can support them,” Henson says.

Andre West, director of Zeis Textiles Extension and the club’s faculty advisor is surprised by how fast the club has grown over the years.

“I went to a meeting last week, and instead of four people there were 20 people,”  West says.

Henson says not only has the Greater Good Textile Group allowed her to make new friends, it has also allowed her to express her passion for sustainability outside of the classroom.

“Being president this year has led lots of faculty members to come to me to ask sustainability-based questions and ask me to speak to their class,” Henson says.

Henson also says that being president of the club has taught her how to present environmental or ethical topics about textiles in an engaging but not overbearing manner.

“It’s really important when I’m talking to other people in the college about it without making them feel less-than or like they don’t care,” Henson says.

Henson states that anyone can join the organization, regardless if they are not enrolled in the Wilson College or do not have prior knowledge about sustainability.

“It’s just a great way to learn something new,” Henson says. “I definitely would encourage anyone who’s even slightly interested.”

Interested in joining Greater Good Textile Group?

The club meets every other Thursday from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in the Wilson College of Textiles student lounge.
Contact the club at if you have any further questions.