Fashion is one of five key industries implicated in modern slavery by advocacy organizations. G20 countries imported $US127.7 billion fashion garments identified as at-risk products of modern slavery. Canada has been identified as one of 12 G20 countries not taking action against modern slavery.
Colonialism and enviromental racism must be addressed if we are to tackle climate change, gender inequality, environmental degradation and human rights abuses. The poorest people on the planet and their cheap labour are exploited to make fashion clothing.
Transparency and traceability by companies is key. Transparency involves openness, communication and accountability. As citizens of this planet, we need to demand transparency and accountability.
We can no longer afford to live the same lifestyle we have become accustomed to. According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry produces 53 million tonnes of fibre each year, more than 70 per cent of that ends up in landfills or bonfires and less than one per cent of it is used to make new clothes.
More than half of “fast” fashion produced is disposed of in less than one year. A truckload of clothing is wasted every second across the world.
We cannot keep chasing the cheapest labour and exploiting natural resources forever. Business as usual is no longer an option. In light of the positive change that is needed to tackle climate change and create an equitable future for everyone, here are five things you can do:
1. Ask questions: #whomademyclothes?
Ask questions, educate yourself and act consciously. Who made your clothes? How will this product end its life? How long am I going to use this product for? Do I really need it? What is it made from? Does the price reflect the effort and resources that went into this?
2. Wear what you have
Don’t throw away your clothes, shoes and accessories. There are ways to keep them out of landfills (reuse, resell, swap, repair, tailor, donation, hand me downs). Can it be repaired? Tailored? Learn to care for your clothes, the longer we keep wearing items, the more we reduce the emissions footprint of our closet.
3. Find alternative ways to be fashionable
Buy vintage, reduce, rent, resell, reuse, swap, repair, tailor or share. Think about the impact you want to make and whether you can sustain that? E.g. reducing plastic use, using less animal products or supporting local businesses.
4. Build a personal style
Knowing what works for you, your body and your lifestyle will have you feeling fabulous all the time (regardless of what the latest “trends” are).
5. Support ethical producers — but only if you need something