I was amazed to learn that the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world. This is not just terrible for the environment, it is dire for the workers who are exposed to dangerous chemicals or poor working conditions in order to mass produce fashion. In the UK we throw away a terrible amount of textiles each year. While many feel that their conscience is clear as they’ve taken it to be recycled, be aware that many fabrics can’t be recycled, and much of our unwanted textiles end up in African countries sitting in large bales. We have simply transferred a problem.
My parents were wartime children, they remember clothes being made from blankets, clothes refashioned into something else, and the make do and mend. They have always encouraged shoes to be looked after, coats to be hung up carefully, and clothes to be chosen with care. They have both still got enviable wardrobes. There’s a fabulous article by Wayne Hemingway What Wartime Thrift can teach us about fashion. Just imagine if we all started to fix or refashion clothes before we just threw them away and buying again.
I am rubbish at sewing, but have started to try, my first project is fashioning my husband’s old shirt into a dress for my daughter. If successful, it has elongated the life of his work shirt until my daughter grows out of the dress, then it will either be rehomed or turned into a duster. So, the useful life of ONE work shirt can be longer than you’d imagine. I always think fashion is about making a statement, what better statement than wearing something unique?
Choosing to re-fashion your clothes or buy second hand clothes is a great environmentally friendly choice. By re-using clothes, we’re stopping them ending up in landfill and are not adding to the problem of textile waste. We are not buying into fast fashion. I’ve seen some debate on whether buying second hand clothes is an ethical choice. It doesn’t alter the fact the clothes may have been produced in poor conditions using cheap labour. I’m still not sure of my thoughts on this, and I think it’ll make another post.
Choosing Ethical Fashion..
I’m not suggesting we should not buy any new clothes, but I do think perhaps it is time we stop buying into frivolous trends. Buy better, select classic garments from companies with a positive ethical policy. Look beyond the high street. I have found so many ethical fashion brands online over the last few years. Consider the fabrics and methods used to make your clothes, and remember to choose shoes with care too. I was horrified to learn how more than 40 types of glue might be used to make a pair of shoes – that can’t be good for anyone. So, before you rush out to replenish your wardrobe, think about what you’re buying. As consumers, if we demand ethical fashion by refusing to buy anything which is not ethical, retailers will have to provide it.