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The Walter Westman Lecture on Science, Humanity and the Environment

Can Science Solve Unsustainable Fashion?

Clare Press

Clare Press, author, podcaster and Vogue Sustainability Editor

We all wear clothes. Far from being the preserve of a frivolous few, fashion is simply the word we give to the $3 trillion global industry behind what we wear. Today it’s faster and bigger than ever before. It guzzles finite resources, contributes to water pollution and soil erosion and emits more greenhouse gases than aviation and maritime combined. And it’s incredibly wasteful. Of the 100 billion garments produced around the world each year, most will end up landfilled or incinerated. Currently, less than 1% of used clothing is recycled into new textiles. Fashion and science might seem unlikely bedfellows, but they are increasingly getting together and with good reason. From new materials to A.I., science hopes to solve some of fashion’s biggest problems.

When: 7pm, Wednesday 11 September
Where: International House, 96 City Road, Darlington NSW 2008
Cost: Free
Register: RSVP online by Thursday 4 September

About the speaker

Clare Press is Vogue’s Sustainability Editor, an author and podcaster. Her critically acclaimed book Wardrobe Crisis, How We Went from Sunday Best to Fast Fashion (Black inc.) examines the fashion industry’s effects on people and planet. The latest, Rise & Resist, How to Change the World (Melbourne University Press) explores movement building and activism. She is currently writing her fourth book about the future of fashion.

The Wardrobe Crisis podcast is now in its third series. Each week, Clare interviews international designers, academics, influencers and industry insiders on all things sustainability-related.

Clare is global ambassador for the Ellen MacArthur Foundations Make Fashion Circular initiative, part of the Fashion Roundtable team in the UK, and a member of Australian advisory board of Fashion Revolution. She sits on Copenhagen Fashion Weeks Sustainability Advisory Board and is one of Global Fashion Agenda’s Content Experts.

Past Walter Westman Lecture speakers

  • 2018: Anna Rose, author and environmentalist, spoke on "Finding hope and courage in the era of climate change: how you can make a difference".
  • 2017: Dr Simon Niemeyer, Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow. Simon's topic was "Deliberative democracy and the environment: saving the planet by taking humans seriously".
  • 2016: Dr Haydn Washington, Visiting Fellow in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences at UNSW. He spoke on the topic: "Sustainability: time to move past waffle and denial?".
  • 2015: Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, Professor of Chemistry and The Initiating Director of the Australian Institute for Nanoscience and Technology (AINST) at the University of Sydney. He spoke on the topic: "From Fundamental Science to Technological Innovation".
  • 2014: Professor Peter Newman AO, Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University and Director of Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute. He is on the Board of Infrastructure Australia and is a Lead Author for Transport on the IPCC. He spoke on the topic: "Sustainability: from despair to hope".
  • 2013: Professor John Quiggin, Australian economist, a member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority and a Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland. He spoke on the topic: "Is it too late to stabilize the global climate?".
  • 2012: Dr Ross Gittins AM, economics editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and an economic columnist for The Age. He spoke on the topic: "Is a 'steady-state' economy feasible?".
  • 2011: Dr Frank Jotzo, senior lecturer at the Crawford School, Director of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and Deputy Director of the ANU Climate Change Institute. He spoke on the topic: "Can Australia be a low-carbon country?".
  • 2010: Professor Ian Hickie AM, Executive Director of the Brain & Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney. He spoke on the topic: "Your Mind and Its Potential to create a better world".
  • 2009: John Conor, CEO of the Climate Institute of Australia. He spoke on the topic: "Targets, Technologies and the Till: How Australian and International Efforts are shaping up on the crucial elements of an effective global climate agreement".
  • 2008: Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds, CSIRO. He spoke on the topic: "Human Nature and Natural Limits – can they be reconciled?".

De Graaff-Elms Biennial Roundtable

Supported by SUIHAA, we had the pleasure of launching the inaugural De Graaff-Elms Roundtable on Sunday 7 April 2019. Guest speakers, Patricia Garcia AO, Professor Mark McKenna and Andrew Ford OAM, spoke eloquently on topics ranging from the philosophy and practice of constructive international relations, pathways to peace, and the role of music promoting cultural diversity. 

Past De Graaff-Elms Roundtable speakers

  • 2019: Patricia Garcia AO

Patricia is a 2017 Rotary Peace Fellow and Visiting Scholar working on peace, humanitarian practice and development issues, including the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Watch Patricia's presentation

  • 2019: Professor Mark McKenna

Professor of History, The University of Sydney and author of From the Edge - Australia’s Lost Histories and Moment of Truth: History and Australia’s Future (Quarterly Essay)Watch Mark's presentation

  • 2019: Andrew Ford OAM

Andrew is a composer, writer and broadcaster who has won awards in each of those capacities, including the 2004 Paul Lowin Prize, a 2010 Green Room Award, and the 2012 Albert H Maggs Prize. Watch Andrew's presentation


Global Leadership Program - Public Talks

The Global Leadership Program (GLP) is a unique learning experience designed to enhance the self-awareness and cross-cultural leadership competencies of residents living at International House.

The Guest Speakers’ Lecture Series within this program presents an exciting opportunity not only for program participants, but also interested members of the University community and public, to access the knowledge and expertise of eminent leaders in a range of professional fields. 

Past GLP speakers


  • Ruchir Punjabi, founder of digital media agency Langoor
  • Dr Harry Bergsteiner, founding director of the Institute for Sustainable Leadership
  • Dr Gorana Grgic, lecturer at the Department of Government and International Relations and the US Studies Centre


  • Professor Marian Baird, the University of Sydney.
  • The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG.
  • Ms Samah Hadid. Social justice campaigner. National Director of The Global Poverty Project. Former Youth Representative to the United Nations.


  • Simon Scott, Director, Energy and Natural Resources (Société Générale, Australia).
  • Andrew Phelan, Chief Executive & Principal Registrar of High Court of Australia.
  • Vaughan Pratt, computer science researcher, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, director of SUN Workstation Project (later SUN Microsystems), IH alumnus 1968-69.