Student Advocacy Group Calls for more Sustainable and Ethical Shopping

A small group of KPU students are hoping to bring some awareness of the effects of fast fashion

Founders of Women Against Fast Fashion: Ama Esenam, Danielle Cornes, and Yetunde Lawal wearing their sustainable fashion outfits at the KPU Surrey campus. (Nicole Filos)

Six KPU students have created a group with the goal of spreading awareness about the consequences of “fast fashion,” an industry based on the cheap and rapid manufacturing of trendy clothing.

The organization, Women Against Fast Fashion, is dedicated to educating people about the negative ethical and environmental effects of selling inexpensive and disposable items of clothing. This new organization was created by KPU students Danielle Cornes, Yetunde Lawal, Simrin Dhariwal, Ama Esenam, Kajal Virk, and Parveen Natt.

They started WAFF as a project for their fourth-year class on community advocacy and human rights. The class is led by KPU Criminology instructor Jeffrey Shantz, who teaches his students theories about social movements and resistance as well as issues of civil rights, human rights, and environmental rights.

“I think that their focus is so important because you talk about human rights, workers rights, the abuse of workers, hyper-exploitation of workers in sweatshops in awful working conditions, impacts on workers health and safety,” he says.

The members of WAFF want young women to change the way they think about fashion by unveiling such issues, which they believe big clothing brands try to bury. They also want to reveal the negative environmental footprint that these enterprises leave on the ecosystem. 

The group’s website,, explains that “fast fashion brands sell cheap-mass produced pieces of clothing made by factory workers that are paid little to nothing for their labour and are forced to work in poor conditions.”

Being sustainably fashionable means being “cautious about what you are buying and how it’s harming the environment,” according to Lawal.

Cornes adds that sustainable fashion is about being conscious about the materials your clothes are made of, which is easier now that it’s more accessible to buy clothes online.

“We are focusing on quality over quantity,” she says. “You can go on and buy a shirt at Forever 21 for five dollars, and it will probably fall apart, or you’ll throw it out in like two wears because you don’t really like it, or it doesn’t really fit well, or it’s not made well,” she says.

“Really, that t-shirt is unnecessary, and it’s actually costing you a lot more than if you had waited for something that you really enjoyed and really loved to wear.”

WAFF aims to educate consumers about the benefits of sustainable fashion by asking sustainable and ethical fashion stores to give out their business cards with links to their website.

The organization is planning to showcase a few sustainable fashion pieces and talk to consumers about how they can make the switch to shopping sustainably at KPU Surrey on Aug. 1.