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Young-A Lee

Faculty ~ Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

Young-A is an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Officer in the Department of Consumer and Design Sciences, College of Human Sciences.

She has an unflagging passion for improving the closest human-built environment, our clothing.  Young-A knows that, depending on how we approach apparel, we can protect and regenerate the planet, improve human wellbeing, and benefit communities.

She was introduced to the concept of sustainability in the late 1990s and was inspired by reading William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s book, Cradle to Cradle (C2C). In 2002, Young-A started to integrate the C2C approach in her research and teaching.

Her scholarship focuses on wearable technology and sustainable models of fashion, and she regularly identifies opportunities for the fashion industry to create sustainable, innovative clothing. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Sustainability Theory and Application, where she gives students practical experiences in creating more sustainable apparel.

In terms of research, her team recently developed a green tea-based material for a sustainable product design challenge that shows potential for use as a renewable and biodegradable leather alternative. Young-A leads a project called Alabama Cotton AwaREness: to expose students to the whole story of cotton, its entire life cycle, from planting and growing to end of use and reuse, teaching cradle-to-cradle thinking and deepening students’ sustainability ethic.  The cotton story becomes a vehicle to create change agents, preparing students to influence and transform the apparel industry.

Young-A is active in the global Educators for Socially Responsible Apparel Practices, which was created to promote the circular economy.  Taking a systems approach, Young-A collaborates with colleagues in other disciplines, like nutrition, mechanical engineering, kinesiology, industrial design, and with industry professionals, to transform the clothing industry.

Photo of Young-A Lee with her Spirit of Sustainability Award