With very little transparency in the mainstream fashion industry today, it’s hard to visualise the millions of people involved in making the clothes we wear.
Heck - it’s even hard for clothing brands to visualise the people making their clothes. In 2016, 61% of companies reported not knowing where their garments were made, 76% percent not knowing where their fabric was produced and 93% not knowing the origins of the raw fibre.
This lack of transparency is costing lives, and causing irreversible damage to the environment.
It’s time to shift the way we think about our clothes, and start showing them a little respect.
It’s estimated that there are somewhere between 60 - 75 million people worldwide who are employed within the clothing industry, with a shocking amount of those people known to be working below their local minimum wage, and in conditions not fit or safe for human beings.
When we’re looking at our own wardrobes and the clothes that we’re purchasing, these people need to be a huge consideration in our decision making process.
With a growing number of apps, guides and websites being developed to help us source out ethically produced, or fair-trade clothing, there’s no excuse not to put in some research before purchasing a new item of clothing. It only takes a quick search on Google or the Good On You app to find out how your brand of choice fares when it comes to respectful treatment of the humans involved in it’s manufacturing process.
Asking your favourite brands for information on their supply chain and from seed to waste is helpful too. Movements like Fashion Revolution Week have made this much more widely practiced, and the mass pressure of individuals taking to social media during this week to ask brands about their policies has caused a lot of open and interesting conversations and definitely sparked change for the better within some organisations.
But respect for our clothing doesn’t just stop with a respect for humanity. The fashion industry is now the second most environmentally-damaging industry on this planet, second only to big oil.
If that fact doesn’t haunt you a little bit next time you’re scouring the sale racks for a massively-reduced item of clothing that you’ll likely throw out within a year, then you’re in need of a good wake-up call.
Luckily, being respectful to the environment when it comes to choosing how to dress yourself isn’t that difficult. Hooray! It all comes down to making some smart and simple choices and sticking to your good habits.
One of the biggest environmental problems we’re seeing from the clothing industry is a result of the sheer amount of waste the industry creates. Americans alone collectively dispose of 11 million tonnes of clothing each year, all of which end up in huge big piles of landfill in developing countries. The mass amounts of space these clothes take up, along with the harmful chemicals that seep off them into the earth, not to mention the huge amount of gross emissions that are produced from making those clothes in the first place turns the whole situation into one big environmental mess.
What can you do? It’s easy. Stop buying new clothes, unless you really need them. And when you have to buy something, buy second hand. It’s one of the BEST ways to show our planet some respect. When you purchase something second hand, you’re contributing to slowing down the lifecycle of a garment, and preventing it from entering into landfill too soon. You’re also putting less demand on the fashion industry, which over time and with greater numbers, will impact the excess supply of clothing that big brands produce.
Another easy way to make a difference is to respect the clothes you already own. Follow care instructions, don’t wash them too much, repair them instead of throwing them out, and when their time is finally up - make responsible decisions on how to dispose of them.
Respecting your clothes and the humans who make them is a way for you to make a difference to the lives of many, and contribute to the future of fashion.