Q&A with Kelsey Merritt, M.A. Fashion Industry Studies Fall 2020 graduate Hometown: Windsor, OH
Student Spotlight Office of Sustainability Newsletter December 2020
What is your area of research or interest?
I am interested in fashion industry waste and sustainability. I am specifically interested in retail waste such as packaging and merchandising waste.
What made you interested in pursuing this area?
Growing up, I have always been passionate about the environment. I was born on Earth Day and every year on it, I would go out and pick up trash. This enlightened me on the amount of trash we created in the United States thus my passion was born. In my undergraduate degree at Kent State in fashion merchandising, I traveled abroad extensively where I saw the impact of this waste not being handled properly. I also worked in several retail and fashion based stores which also showed me how much waste is created in packaging alone. I wanted to make a difference by researching it more.
What is your favorite part of your position or research?
I loved being able to interview people directly in the fashion industry who see and work with packaging and retail waste daily. They are aware of the waste created, but feel like just a number in the company. Hearing this made me realize I was not crazy or alone in what I was seeing during my time in retail.
What type of work or research did you do for your thesis?
I researched the attitudes towards retail packaging and merchandising waste in the fashion industry including best practices currently being implemented in the industry and how companies could do so with the lowest barrier to entry.
What are your favorite accomplishments or projects you have worked on so far?
My favorite accomplishment has been completing my Master's thesis as it was something I am incredibly passionate about and got to connect with a huge audience in doing so to make them aware of the problem.
What career or path do you see yourself pursuing after graduation?
I currently work in communications which I love and plan on staying in at this time. I would love to be a sustainability consultant for companies as this is lacking in the industry.
What is the “Step by Step” mural?
Step by Step was an initiative I created in my senior year of undergrad where I pursued breaking the world record of the world's largest barefoot painted mural. After traveling abroad and having my heart broken by it, I came back wanting to create a symbol of hope that people could participate in. The final mural was 26,787 square feet which is more than half the size of a football field! It was beautiful having so many people coming together to create the giant mural.
Anything else you’d like to add/tell think is important to mention? (anything else I missed?)
I think people are fatigued by the word "sustainability" and "ecofriendly" and "climate change" which I totally feel, too. It's daunting, but becoming aware is key to helping combat this. Being aware of packaging and what's going on around you, what you're purchasing, how much trash you're taking out on a weekly basis etc. are all steps to seeing the impact we each individually make and how we can cut down on it. After you start noticing it, you can be a part of change such as cutting down on how much you spend and throw away.
Thank you and congratulations Kelsey!!!