A charity is promoting a greener fashion industry to make inroads into the 253 tonnes of textile waste that are dumped daily in landfills. And what better way to do this than with a catwalk competition? Dr Christina Dean, CEO of Redress, which is devoted to encouraging people to live in a more sustainable way, said: 'The fashion industry literally refashioned itself in the mid-1990s with the emergence of 'fast fashion': cheap and low-quality clothing. As a result, the issue of increased textile waste has reared a new, uglier head.' Dean and Redress created the Eco Chic Fashion awards in collaboration with industry partners such as Esprit, Esthetica and John Hardy. The finals on Friday culminated in a glamorous event and sustainable-fashion show 'Redress on the Runway' at the W Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. The overall winner of the design award was Janko Lam Chun-kuk (right), who will get the chance of work experience with Esthetica in London and John Hardy in Bali and have her capsule collection produced and sold in Esprit Hong Kong stores in October. The clothes in the competition were made with about 20 per cent recycled denim and 35 per cent recycled cotton jersey fibre. 'The recycled component of the finished garment will be generated from Esprit's own garment-manufacturing waste,' Dean said. For some, 'sustainable fashion' might seem an oxymoron, but others like Dean are there to show that it doesn't need to be. A study published in the Journal of Sustainable Development last month by the University of Science and Technology in Changchun, Jilin, estimated that about 3 million to 4 million tonnes of waste water a day is discharged from textile and dyeing factories on the mainland. A recent expose by Greenpeace brought media attention to discharges containing large amounts of metals such as copper, cadmium and lead in the rivers of two textile-manufacturing towns in Guangdong: Xintang, or 'Jeans Town', and Gurao, which specialises in underwear. The area is nicknamed 'the capital of sexy', but there is nothing attractive about the stench and sickly hues of a river poisoned by chemical dye run-off. The problem is that these towns represent just two of 133 textile industrial areas on the mainland. Joanne Ooi, CEO of Clean Air Network and formerly a creative director at Shanghai Tang, said: 'To date, there has been no widely accepted, let alone universal, standard for assessing the sustainability of a garment factory. The lack of standards is due to a failure of industry co-ordination and consumer leniency.' She says shoppers want to buy clothes as cheaply as possible, which makes costly sustainable practices commercially undesirable. Ooi wants people to consume less and demand more of brands. 'Consumers should ask, for example, was slave labour involved in the making of this garment? And how was the dye of this product disposed of?' She is urging designers to investigate whether materials are ethically sourced and manufactured. One such designer is Amy Cheung, co-founder of Handkerchief, a local eco-conscious conceptual fashion brand, who ignores trend forecasts and uses pricey organic fabrics. 'We are trying to make clothes that customers will love to keep for years, like art pieces, rather than throw away after one season,' Cheung said. 'We care about the health of the creative fashion industry, the quality of the product for the consumer and the world that we are all living in.' Cheung gets her eco-fabrics from Hong Kong-based Sun Hing Holdings. The lingerie and accessories supplier has a factory in Shenzhen that uses eco-friendly dyes and organic fabrics and has developed sustainable manufacturing methods. Dean noted that H&M's spring 'Conscious Cotton' collection, as worn by singer Karen Mok, featured organic cotton, regenerated cellulose fibre) and recycled polyester.