Third Place - Middle School

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 12: Responsible Production & Consumption

2020 Youth Design Challenge

This design concept was developed by participants in the Institute’s Youth Design Challenge. The descriptions below are from the team’s competition entry materials.

School: Wind Dance Farm & Earth Education Center
Location: Berkeley Springs, WV
Coach: Leslie Devine Milbourne, Tim Smith
Team members: Adeline Hemerick, Claire Newton, Ivy Hale, Julia Bryner

Video Pitch

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Innovation Details

Team Windancers focused on the climate impacts of fast fashion and created a social awareness campaign that demonstrates how biomimicry can be applied in many ways and is not limited only to the creation of objects. After thoroughly researching the problem, the team recognized that changing consumer behavior was essential, and focused their efforts there. They looked to nature to guide how they could get the word out, learning from bees and sheep to develop their strategy. The team was applauded by the judges for the depth of their research into the problem, evidence of systems thinking, and original approach.


What is the problem addressed for this Challenge and how is it related to climate change?

Fast Fashion, the cheap production of clothing made for short fashion trends, has a huge impact on Climate Change. The production of Fast Fashion links to Climate Change through emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are released through cultivation of cotton, deforestation for tree pulp for material, and the burning of fossil fuels – 1 2 billion tons of Co2 is emitted into the atmosphere each year. Fast Fashion impacts deforestation through harvesting trees for pulp used in textiles, and clearing land for growing cotton. Deforestation removes a carbon sink and releases stored carbon from soil.


What does this design solution do? How does it solve and improve a problem?

Our design solution informs people about environmental problems created by fast fashion – rising atmospheric temperatures from emissions of greenhouse gases, deforestation, and pollution. Our team developed an educational campaign reaching different age groups to inform them of problems related to fast fashion. The campaign includes three forms of media – memes, newspaper article, and posters. If people are aware, they’re more likely to change their habits. The fewer clothes bought and thrown away means less trees are cut down and fewer fossil fuels burned during manufacturing and transportation of clothes, lessening the impact on our climate and environment.


How was this solution inspired by nature? What organisms inspired it?

This solution mimics bees and sheep. Scout bees search different places for food, and regroup to decide where to go. When a sheep decides to move, it gets the whole flock to move by communicating with the closest sheep, and the information spreads throughout the flock, which moves together. When individuals receive a message from a single source, they will share it with others close to them causing a chain reaction spreading the information about the impact of fast fashion on climate.