Whilst there is always plenty of positive media coverage of the designer clothing at the international fashion weeks, the fashion industry seems to have been making the headlines lately for all of the wrong reasons, mainly because of fast fashion and its impact on people and planet. It is all quite shocking to read but as consumers, there are simple things that we can do to make a difference, or we can just bury our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening.
Recently in the Guardian Alex Renton reported on how the toxic tanneries of Dhaka are turning a profit at an intolerable human cost. The article states
According to the World Health Organisation, 90% of Hazaribagh’s tanning factory workers will die before they’re 50. Half – some 8,000 – have respiratory disease already. Many of the workers are children of toxic chemicals in it clothing manufacture.
Only a few weeks ago there was controversy when a report commissioned by Greenpeace found toxic chemicals in clothing made by 20 high street brands. Since then both Zara and Levis have committed to detox. You can see the Greenpeace video for their ‘Detox Fashion’ campaign below.
Last month, a factory fire in a garment factory in Bangladesh made the headlines when 112 people were killed. The owner of the factory which made clothing for Walmart and Sears was found to negligent after workers were forced to stay at their machines even after the fire alarms sounded and there were a number of other health and safety issues in the factory.
These headlines paint a pretty dire picture of the fashion industry and its treatment of workers and impact on the environment. It kind of takes the fun and enjoyment out of fashion! There are lots of positive things happening at the moment though, many big brands are starting to react to public pressure and clean up their act. As consumers the choices that we make can have a huge impact on how the fashion industry behaves.
It is not all bad, there is a growing number of pioneering and innovative ethical fashion brands who are showing that you can look great and still have respect for the planet and those working in the fashion industry. Here are just a few of the positive alternatives that you can choose.
Eco shoes and vegetable tanned leather
There are alternatives to conventionally tanned leather which are much more people and eco friendly. Vegatable tanned leather used non toxic substances to tan the leather. Timberland have also committed to only using leather from silver and gold rated tanneries helping to ensure less pollution and greater attention to the health and welfare of workers. Vegan shoes can also be a lower impact alternative if they are made from an eco friendly alternative to leather.
Scares over toxic chemicals on clothing can make it difficult to know what to buy and who to trust. With certified organic clothing, you can be certain the no harmful chemicals have been used from the growing of the cotton right through to the finishing of the final product. Outdoor wear and rain coats are in particular have been found to contain toxic chemicals. You can find some great organic cotton rain coats at Seasalt Cornwall and Hemp Hoodlamb.
Fair Trade Fashion
Whilst many garment factory workers in developing countries are paid very low wages and forced to work in unsafe and inhumane conditions, fashion that is made under fair trade conditions ensures that workers receive a fair wage and are treated humanely. Traditionally fair trade fashion has had a bit of a reputation for being unstylish or lacking in choice. This definitely isn’t the case anymore, there are some amazing and innovative designers and brands working hard to pioneer new ways of working whilst creating beautiful, wearble clothes.
If you don’t believe us, please check out the fair trade fashion on style is… to find out for yourself.