More and more people are turning their back on fast fashion practices (thank goodness!) and ethical shopping seems to be the new style movement. However, I really hope this is a sustained movement, rather than just a short-lasting trend.
I recently saw an article in Natural Health magazine that inspired me to make a post on this topic. I was shocked when I read that 300,000 tonnes of clothing made its way to landfill sites in the UK last year. Also 235 million items were thrown away in spring alone! The fashion industry is the fifth most polluting on the planet.
I used to think that it was just waste that was the problem. This is not the case! It’s also the human cost of unsafe working conditions. The exploited labour.
I am so pleased to see that an increasing number of people are making more conscious decisions to swap their shopping habits to a more sustainable and ethical approach. According to the article and a recent study by YouGov and the Global Poverty Project, 74% of those surveyed said they would pay an extra 5% for their clothes if the workers were in safe conditions and guaranteed fair pay. I have noticed that this has encouraged a number of sustainable brands to come forward to make their voice heard.
I really think that consumers, including myself, are now starting to think more carefully before purchasing. I definitely now buy less but better. I currently believe that buying one high quality, more expensive piece that will last me a couple of years at least is so much more beneficial than buying ten cheaper garments that would be neglected come the next season.
I believe that this changes have come from a number of reasons. This includes a wider awareness and connectiveness to the world’s issues and therefore people become less ignorant and more conscious. There is also a greater desire to know more about the items we buy, however I sometimes find a lack of this information on companies’ social media or website. As the article states, this ‘…highlights two of the biggest problems in the current industry- transparency and accountability.’ I sometimes find that large companies have a sustainable forefront but are disconnected to what actually happens thousands of miles away on their factory floors and even their transportation methods.
Having said this, I do feel that the industry is slowly moving in the right direction. Shopping ethically means that workers are paid fairly and that we are supporting some of the most environmentally friendly production processes. These in turn help to promote better business practice in the fashion industry.
Organic cotton, for example, not only helps the environment and waterways by being non-polluting, but is also better for workers’ health as they do not have to come in direct contact with chemicals. They are similarly paid a premium for the crop.
Overall, I feel that there are lots of ethical practices being done, however, there is still plenty of room for more. I don’t know about you, but I would love to see brands taking responsibility by demanding the government to enforce legislations to put an end to unethical behaviour occurring in the market. I feel that this would also educate customers.
As a consumer, being curious and questioning is the first step! Recycling textiles and considering brand options that we purchase from can help to make changes to the fast fast industry.