Christina Dean has literally changed the fashion landscape in Hong Kong. In a city where fast fashion and consumerism run deep, she has proven that what’s old can be chic and what’s green can be trendy. She proved that clothes shopping is optional when she embarked on her one year challenge to only wear used clothing. We are convinced! Here, she tells us a little about herself and what she is all about.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Christina, Founder and CEO of Redress, an NGO with a mission to reduce waste in the fashion industry. I’m 36, a previous journalist and dentist and a mother of three kids, aged 10, 8 and 3. I have always been environmentally conscious, but after retraining as a journalist in the UK (I was previously a dentist) and then moving to Hong Kong in 2007 my interest in environmental sustainability took a huge spike and turned into an unstoppable passion. This is because I began researching what contributes to China’s worrying pollution problems. My eyes were eager and as a fresh journalist I had the conviction to ask the most obvious questions to understand my new and unknown topic of interest – China’s pollution. It wasn’t too long into my research before I looked into the impact that China’s fashion industry – as the garment manufacturer to the world – was having in this region. The results were so shocking that this triggered a huge life and career change to follow my passion to realize a less damaging fashion industry.
When did you first adopt a green lifestyle?
It may come as a surprise but I don’t consider myself to be a resoundingly green person. I am highly motivated towards personal responsibility and I feel great commitment in life towards creating positive value. In my case, I am drawn towards environmental sustainability. I call this my ‘soul equity’ although it’s also my ‘sweat equity’! But on a personal level, if you scrutinized my living you could certainly find areas where I could lessen my own impact on this Earth. I have three kids – so there’s one of my greatest (but loveliest) indulgences! That said I naturally live by perhaps what could be considered a more astute attention to sustainability. This means that I do what I can throughout my life streams, from the values I teach my children about not wasting resources and about caring about what happens to our future world to the consumption choices I make on a daily basis. Ultimately, my choice of career reflects how I feel about the world, but I’m always cautious to claim to be too green because everyone can always do more.
What is your greenest daily habit?
What I wear. After completing the 365 Challenge, a year long challenge to wear only Hong Kong’s discarded clothes, I decided to continue on this track. Most of my clothes are either secondhand, bought new but I have owned for many years or are made by designers using waste textiles from the industry.
Tell us about Redress and its mission.
Redress is a Hong Kong based NGO with a mission to promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry by reducing textile waste, pollution, water and energy consumption. Our work is grouped over four key programmes: The EcoChic Design Award (a sustainable fashion design competition), The R Cert (a consumer facing standard for recycled clothing), consumer campaigns and industry engagement.
What are some of the greenest features of Redress?
As an environmentally focused organization everything we do is focused on helping the industry, designers and consumers to be more sustainable. Our current consumer campaign, The Get Redressed Challenge informs consumers about the positive impacts their clothing choices, consumer care and wardrobe management can have on the environment with 12 monthly sustainable fashion themes featured on our Instagram account. August is all about sustainable brands.
Share a green Hong Kong tip with our readers.
My advice to readers would firstly be to look at your favorite brands, just asking basic questions you may find they already have some great sustainable initiatives. Get informed by finding out what the issues are around fashion and where you stand on them. Try to make better decisions when buying new items, thinking about: how long you will use the item? Is it made well? Are there items in your existing wardrobe that could be ‘redressed’?
And to follow the Get Redressed challenge for more information! (www.instagram.com/getredressed )
Where is your favorite place to eat green in Hong Kong?
Grassroots Pantry, a small restaurant that has character and heart. The dishes have soul and they make for fulfilling dinners with my loved ones.
Green Queen Heroes is a monthly series showcasing the talented and relentless individuals who are helping to make Hong Kong a greener, cleaner, kinder place to live and giving us eco-warriors more accessible options!
All images courtesy of Luke Casey & Redress.