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Textile Sustainability Forum presented by RITIN, URI & Polaris MEP

The following are video recordings of presentations from a unique half-day forum held on September 19, 2022 at the University of Rhode Island.

The purpose of this informative, action-oriented event was to strengthen the textile innovation ecosystem by fostering collaboration and dialogue among key stakeholders in academia, industry and government. Attendees heard thought-provoking remarks from Senator Jack Reed, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressman David Cicilline. This was followed by presentations and a panel discussion with URI faculty, students and industry experts.

In addition to the presentations (video recordings below), dozens of Rhode Island-based textile companies also participated in a mini “trade show” to connect with new talent and share their sustainability initiatives.

To connect with any of the presenters, organizers or sponsors, please email info@ritin.org

With thanks to our sponsors:

Alyssa C. Opishinski, Masters Candidate

URI Textiles, Fashion Merchandising & Design

“We Didn’t Start The Fire”

The graduate student’s presentation addressed best practices for engaging in climate action discussion across generations and viewpoints.

Jessica Strübel, Associate Professor; & Ji Haye Kang, Associate Professor; & Saheli Goswami, Assistant Professor

URI Textiles, Fashion Merchandising & Design

Topic: Improving Society and the Planet: Sustainability and Textiles Post-Pandemic


Karl Aspelund, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department Chair
URI Textiles, Fashion Merchandising & Design

on behalf of Izabela Ciesielska-Wrobel, Assistant Professor, URI Textiles, Fashion Merchandising & Design

Topic: creating a sound circular textile economy in Rhode Island and elsewhere

Dr. Peter Snyder, VP Research & Economic Development

The University of Rhode Island

His presentation stressed that we are at a pivotal moment to find solutions to plastic pollution. 85% of total microplastics in waste come from microfibers shed from textiles. Dr. Snyder shared how URI is addressing the urgent need.

Seray Ergene, Assistant Professor of Management

URI College of Business

Her brief presentation was an overview of her research into sustainability and textiles, including the socio-material processes around sustainability.

Vinka Craver, Associate Dean for Research, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

URI College of Engineering

Her presentation addressed circularity in textiles, particularly the waste involved in textile manufacturing. “Waste is a resource that will be at the wrong place at the wrong time,” she began.

Janel Twogood, U.S. Director

Accelerating Circularity

Her keynote presentation addressed “putting textiles to good use” as textile manufacturing/textiles transitioned to circularity. Twogood began by framing the need for immediate action, noting that 84% of clothing ends up in landfills or incinerators, and dove into material flows.

Edmir Silva, Market & Concept Development Director


UNIFI is one of the largest textile companies in the world. Silva was introduced by Michael M. Woody, the Chairman of the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network (RITIN). His keynote presentation dove into the issues of plastics and fibers as they relate to sustainability in textiles. Silva also noted the responsibility consumers have in transitioning to a circular textile economy.

2022 Textile Sustainability Forum panel discussion, featuring:

Panelists explored the reality, challenges and opportunities of a circular textile economy and greater sustainability in textiles manufacturing.