Ethical Fashion                              

 

The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world ... second only to oil. It's a really nasty business ... it's a mess."         - Eileen Fisher, clothing Industry magnet

 

Even though we are constantly bombarded with messages of how less is more and advice about decluttering has reached peak levels in the media, our thirst for new clothes is unabated. Unfortunately the clothing industry really is a dirty business:

                                                                                  The problem                                                                                               

  • It uses harmful chemicals in its dyeing/bleaching process which pollute our oceans on a great scale.

  • It uses huge amounts of water - the manufacture of a single cotton t-shirt can use up to 2,700 liters of fresh water - leading to draught and ultimately to desertification which in turn leads to food and water shortages. 

  • It accounts for around 10% of the world’s global carbon emissions and therefore contributes massively  to climate change.

  • Its labour practices are harmful to the most vulnerable people around the world who often work under slave-like and hazardous  conditions to produce the cheap garments we throw away after one season.

  • It continues to pollute after its production, especially plastic microfibers from synthetic which are released from our clothes into the water supply  and which are dangerous to marine wildlife and are now even ending up in our food supply, e.g in sea salt.

  • It drives deforestation - every year, more than 70 million trees are cut down to make fabrics like rayon, viscose, and modal.

                                                                            So what is the solution?                                                                                  

  • The obvious - buy less clothes and wear your clothes for longer than just one season

  • Make use of second-hand or vintage clothes which also saves them going to landfill (textiles constitute 5% of all landfill waste)

  • Sell your old clothes on websites such as Gumtree, Depop, Shpock or other local websites.

  • Give your old clothes to charities but make sure that it is a local charity as global charities have found to flood African countries with our unwanted clothes, destroying their local markets

  • Damaged clothes and textiles can be recycled and made into new items, such as padding for chairs and car seats, etc.  

  • Sign the petition of the rainforest alliance and demand that the big fashion brands clean up their act

  • If you have to buy new clothes, try and buy organic cotton and materials that are 100% natural and made of only one material as mixed-material clothes can often not be recycled. You will find a list of organic clothes shops in our Eco shops section

  • Buy fake leather - the leather industry uses large amounts of harmful dyes and it often includes animal suffering

  • Buy organic cotton - the cotton industry is responsible got the use of 25% of all insecticides,  has highly negative effects on cotton farmers' health and the environment. As the producers of the move "True cost" expain: "More than 90% of that cotton is now genetically modified, using vast amounts of water as well as chemicals. Cotton production is now responsible for 18% of worldwide pesticide use and 25% of total insecticide use." For more information, watch the movie "True cost".

  • Make sure you aren't unwilling buying real fur. As a BBC investigation uncovered: "Most high street stores have fur-free policies, but adornments and trims from rabbits, dogs, raccoons, foxes and minks are appearing on clothes sold on market stalls, by smaller independent retailers and online". Read the article & how to recognice and avoid real fur here.

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