Five years ago this week, 1,138 young women and men working in a textile factory in Bangladesh lost their lives when the building (which had notable signs of danger and deterioration) collapsed. This tragedy sent shockwaves around the world, not just because of the lives lost, but because it showed the result of the unsafe and unhealthy working conditions that our cheap, fast fashion is often made in. This was recognised as too high of a price to pay for cheap fashion consumption, and so the global movement called “Fashion Revolution” was founded in protest.
The fashion industry is a huge employer for millions of young women around the world who are often forced to work too long hours for too little pay. The overall volume of clothes being produced is putting a strain on the environment, polluting water and oceans with microfibres that shed from polyester clothing, and using up precious drinking water in production countries.
It’s up to us to make a change by using our voice and creativity.
Fashion Revolution Week
This is Fashion Revolution Week (ending on Sunday April 29th). It is an important event that raises the profile on the issues involved in producing cheap, throw-away fashion, by demanding a more sustainable, safer, cleaner and more transparent fashion industry.
As a result of people power from all over the world, many brands have started to disclose information about their production, from working conditions and wages, to their environmental policies, but it’s still not enough. Many more uncomfortable questions still need to be asked to put pressure on brand producers. Transparency is key if we want to demand change. We need to ask brands to come clean about wages, workplace safety, environmental policy, the use of polyester and textile recycling; and raise demand for high quality, durable clothes from brands instead of cheap throw-away fashion.
Here are some practical actions that can be taken based on recommendations made by Greenpeace International as part of their ‘Detox My Fashion’ Campaign:
- Ask brands #whomademyclothes?
- Instead of shopping new, make something: to reduce fashion’s impact on the environment. You can lengthen the lifespan of your favourite clothes by up-cycling, repairing, mending.
- Go to a fashion revolution event near you and connect with your local community: see the Fashion Revolution link above to see what is on in Ireland.
- Be curious – inform yourself on the real issues.
- Send a postcard: Write to a fashion brand to ask them to be more transparent and to commit to paying living wages or write to your local politician, and tell them you want better conditions for workers and the reduction of environmental impacts in the fashion industry everywhere in the world.
Note: As part of their ‘Conversation Series’ – the Irish Development Education Association (IDEA) are hosting a conversation circle on ‘Ethics & Fashion’ on Tuesday 8th May from 12.3-2.00 pm in the IDEA Office at 6 Gardiner Row, Dublin 1. See details on link: Details IDEA Ethics & Fashion – a conversation