This year, as part of the Festival’s partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Wexford Festival Opera and the EPA launched a new initiative as part of EPA Green Night. Opera goers were encouraged to make sustainable fashion choices when choosing their evening outfits to highlight that the way we shop and the choices we make daily can make a big difference to our environment. Whether it’s borrowing a bowtie from a family member, raiding your wardrobe for that beautiful dress you wore many years ago, or finding the perfect pair of opera gloves in your local charity or vintage shop - every small change in the way we shop and the choices we make daily can make a big difference.As part of the initiative, the Festival called on their audience across social media to share the sustainable outfit or outfit items they would wear to #EPAGreenNight to be in with a chance to win tickets to last night’s opera. After considering many entries, the EPA and Wexford Festival Opera selected the entry from F.X. O’Brien as the competition winner. F.X. shared his story of two sustainable items he would wear as part of his outfit.
Firstly, his bowtie, that he has worn to the Festival for the last 40 years! He first bought it in Harrods when he was working his first job out of college. As it is a ‘real’ bowtie he could never tie it - so his friend’s fiancé tied it, and it has never been undone since. Now he hopes to wear it to their son’s wedding next year.
Secondly, a set of silver gilt cufflinks and shirt studs bought at an auction, made in Chester in 1901. You can’t get much more sustainable than that. F.X. O’Brien and his guest joined the EPA last-night at Wexford Festival Opera to enjoy the main stage opera, Edmea. Together with our competition winner, many members of the opera audience made sustainable choices in the outfits they wore and helped the Festival spread the message of sustainable fashion. In attendance, Sharon Finegan, Director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability for the Environmental Protection Agency, said, “We want to remind people that even small changes help in the care and protection of our environment. This year, by promoting sustainable fashion at Wexford Festival Opera, we hope to inform people about the importance of a circular economy, and encourage them to take responsibility in their own lives and to consider their personal choices. We know that there are real opportunities presented by taking a more sustainable approach to fashion. An estimated 40,000 tonnes of clothing end up in household bins in Ireland every year and most of this is processed via waste-to-energy plants or landfills. Each of us can play a role in tackling this waste. If we move away from fast fashion and buy clothes that last, if we reuse what we have or buy second hand we can reduce this impact on the environment dramatically.”
The EPA’s headquarters is based in Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford and the agency has been part of the local community for the last 25 years. It has worked with and supported Wexford Festival Opera for many years through various EPA-led initiatives to raise awareness on a variety of environmental issues.