Green Gowns: From eco designs to ocean clean up

Linda Thomas owns Linda Thomas Eco Design and creates the iconic green gowns bestowed upon Green Gown Award winners. Find out about her journey from Green Gowns to Marine Waste in here own words.

I became in involved with EAUC in 2015 after my eco dresses were in a fashion show at Colston Hall, Bristol for part of European Green Capital and Big Green Week. I liked that EAUC had joined up thinking and was celebrating sustainability in a sustainable way.
I immediately thought back to my own graduation ceremony in Medicine and what is particular about the shape of an academic gown that is like nothing else. It seemed quite obvious really that the Green Gown awards should involve green gowns and so I set to work with help from a friend on making and designing them. On a tight schedule finding enough green material to upcycle was a challenge, but we did manage it, using everything from charity shop curtains to sheets and more standard jackets and coats. Each one is unique but based on the same pattern and stitched using organic cotton and with a recycling symbol on the back. One winner loved her gown so much, that I made her one to keep after handing back her original winning one. I hope that each year winners will really wear their gown with pride to know that they have really achieved something worthwhile in their academic establishment.
Moving on to 2017. The majority of my work is making eco wedding gowns, dresses and jackets but I am also a passionate supporter of the movement to try and clean up our oceans of Marine Waste. I collaborated with Keep Britain Tidy’s Beach Care team and made the “Wave of Waste” dress from the covers of 100 dumped cheap polystyrene bodyboards. My original sketch had a 1-2 metre train but in the end it was 22 metres long and flew like a kite! With 14,500 bodyboards dumped each year in the South West alone and many more drifting off to sea, the problem was bigger than I had imagined. We launched the dress in Watergate Bay in Cornwall and people seemed to love it. I have had articles written about it from as diverse places as the dive organisation PADI to Eluxe Magazine and news organisations such as the BBC, ITV and Sky. What it has really shown me is that when you do something that you really care about you bring an energy with you that is contagious.
Wishing everyone the best of luck at this year’s Green Gown Awards.

Do tag me on Instagram @linda_eco_design, with photos of you in your winning gowns, as I love to read about your stories. My website is

Credits for Wave of Waste Dress:
Photography: Symages Photography
Dress: Linda Thomas Eco Design
Collection of boards and organiser: Keep Britain Tidy’s Beach Care Team
Eco Hair: Clair Swinscoe Studio Couture using Oway
Eco Make up: Rebecca Rose Robinson
Model: Emma Adams.
Delivered by EAUC