BY LOUISE ALLSOP
28 May 2020
We all know that buying new clothes a little too often is probably not having the best impact on the planet, don’t we? But what really happens when we have a bit of a splurge on the high street, and does that one new shirt really make a difference in the grand scheme of things?
According to Oxfam, two tonnes of clothing are bought each minute in the UK and we’re the biggest buyers in Europe. The global textiles industry produces more greenhouse gas than both international shipping and flights. One new shirt has a larger carbon footprint than driving for 35miles – so yes, that new shirt really does make a difference.
As we all become more aware and educated about the environmental impact of our day-to-day lives, sometimes we forget about the people producing clothing. There is a lack of transparency within the supply chain and many are unaware of the effect the fashion and textiles sector have on the health and lives of the people making our clothes.
The Rana Plaza disaster of 2013 killed at least 1,132 people and injured 2,500 and the tragedy raised awareness of the shocking labour conditions experienced by garment workers in Bangladesh. Some of the clothing made by these people was for brands and retailers selling in the UK.
Dangerous workplaces, accidents, deaths and disease. little financial or legal protection. long working hours, low pay, forced labour and child labour. Thats the truth behind that one new shirt.
Many people are involved in the process of producing clothes. The farmers who grow cotton, facing the impact of Climate Change directly, as weather patterns change. Those who weave the fabric, cut and sew the shirt, transport it, advertise and sell it. Alongside those directly employed within the industry, there’s also the communities surrounding factories and farms, and our buying behaviours change their lives too.
How can we help and change our consumption behaviours for the better?
we need to rethink our purchases, extend our clothing’s lifespan and there’s so many alternatives to buying new!
- Alter clothing to meet your new needs
- Buy second-hand
- Clothing swaps
- Supporting sustainable and independent brands – check out ‘Good on You’, a website and app that rates the sustainability of retailers.
There’s also a lot of resources to learn a little more about the fashion supply chain –
Watch: ‘The True Cost’ – A documentary that explores the global impact of fashion. Currently on Amazon Prime
Check out: ‘Fashion Revolution’ – They’re leading positive change-making within the sector and educating people globally the challenges facing the global fashion industry. Their ‘Who Made My Clothes?’ campaign encourages you to learn about the ethics behind your clothes and to approach brands about the story behind their garments. www.fashionrevolution.org
Being sustainable is exciting; it means you can create a completely unique, personalised wardrobe and you can feel good about its contents too!