5 Free Online Courses to Learn About Sustainability in Fashion and Beyond

Millions of people around the world are stuck inside their houses, and boredom has been taking hold of many people over the past weeks. For those of us fortunate enough to stay at home, the days might feel a little endless, with not much to do. As we wait for the outside to become safer again, this is a great time to turn our attention to learning things. Thinking of the people who can’t go out and don’t have a lot to do right now, we’ve curated a list of great (and free!) online courses related to environmentalism and sustainable design.

Isolation can be difficult. The considerable decrease in social interaction and outdoor activities can make anyone anxious and feeling on edge. Keeping one’s mind occupied is a great way to pass the time during these strange days. We can’t think of a better way to exercise the brain than learning about the driving force behind Red Carpet Green Dress: sustainability. The courses below revolve around creating a more conscious future for our planet and viewing different perspectives on sustainable practices. We hope you enjoy them!

1. UCLA – Sustainable Living
Designed, developed, and facilitated by UCLA students, the Sustainable Living course online is a sub-division of the Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP). The series compiles talks from speakers from the university and several other institutions to talk about the layers of sustainability. Here, you’ll hear about the practices of conscious living from experts, activists, professors, community activists, reps from environmental NGOs, and even government officials. The topics are as varied as green businesses, environmental justice, food systems, organic gardens, transportations, and the green economy in general, and it serves as a great introduction to this vast world.

2. London College of Fashion – Fashion, and Sustainability: Understanding Luxury Fashion in a Changing World
The London College of Fashion has housed the Centre for Sustainable Fashion research facility since 2008. For years, this institution has focused on creating knowledge to make our industry more sustainable. Their Fashion and Sustainability free course, aimed at fashion workers and educators, serves as an introduction to sustainable fashion, and its potential impact. Educators from the Centre for Sustainable Fashion teach this six-week course. In this time, they explore the reasoning behind sustainable fashion, the critical issues within the industry, the agendas at play, and the contexts associated with luxury fashion. Kering, Kering, the luxury fashion group behind brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, and Yves Saint Laurent, supports this series of lectures.

3. The University of Exeter – Who Made My Clothes?
Created in conjunction with the not-for-profit global movement Fashion Revolution, this 3-week course serves as a first contact with how the fashion industry looks behind the scenes. Students can learn about the practices of the fashion industry and how supply chains work, along with their cost in the economy and the lives of workers. It’s also an excellent tool to learn how to research brands and engaging in a safer and more conscious supply chain. It is an excellent place to begin that journey if you’re looking for a guide on how to become a more conscious buyer.

4. Columbia University – The Age of Sustainable Development
A 14-week course taught by world-renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs, it is based on his 2015 book of the same name. It’s an in-depth view of the meaning of sustainable development, and the current challenges its practices face. The Columbia professor teaches course students about the history of economic growth from the Industrial Revolution onwards, and how inequality has looked like at different times. He also delves into the various scenarios that need to be taken into account for sustainable development, including social justice, urbanisation, climate change, biodiversity, and more. In all, these lessons offer a comprehensive look from someone who has been researching this topic in the world stage for many years.

5. The Canopy Lab – Sustainability for Youth
The Canopy Lab is a Danish company that’s been looking to change the way people learn since 2015. Their Sustainability for Youth course has several speakers from different areas and experiences sharing their journeys in sustainability, from day-to-day practices like reducing waste to entrepreneurs creating projects entirely based on organic materials.