Saturday, 12 November 2011

Eco-sustainable clothing

As you know I am on my third year of fashion at the University of Lincoln.

I'm doing my dissertation as a study of the progression of eco-sustainable fashion and what impact the clothes industry has had on the planet and individuals. The research that I have undertaken has undeniably made my blood run cold. I have been sitting in the living room of my student house fixated in this book called "The Rough Guide to Ethical Living". My housemate watched my jaw drop at certain intervals.

What I don't understand, is that all of us aren't being warned today of the process of manufactured clothing. It is something that needs changing immediately, we are too acquisitive. We are indoctrinated by media that encourages us to buy brands which we have know clue about.  Only small varieties of people stop shopping at certain retail outlets which have been given a bad name for child labour. But there is so much more to it. It's every outlet, 1000s of men, women and children die a year working on the cotton fields because of the pesticides used. The "Pesticide Action network" have said that there are as many as three million poisonings and 20,000 deaths each year. These people end their lives using the very pesticides that forced them into dept.

And then comes the manufacture of the conventional cotton cloth where thousands of synthetic substances are used such as chlorine bleaches, heavy-metal dyes and treatments such as formaldehyde to lessen creasability and minimise shrinking. Many are highly toxic and cause environmental and health problems if not handled and disposed of correctly.

Organic cotton is now much easier to source. Certain clothing manufacturers and farms are certified by the Fair Trade movement, a logo which we are able to trust as they define the standards and certify that accredited products really are produced in accordance with them. They implement a trade auditing system which checks that every fairtrade-labelled product sold to a consumer has indeed been produced by a certified producer organisation.

The other day I was in Stamford my home town and couldn't help noticing that there was a wonderful new shop on St. Marys Hill. From what came to me as a surprise and prosperity for my dissertation as it is a "fair trade" certified shop which sells organically made clothing from certified manufacturers such as "braintree" and "Greenpiece". Being very excited by this new awareness I did some shopping to try out these sublime materials, my new socks made out of bamboo, my hat made out of organic wool from Nepal and a nice warm top made out of organic cotton. I wasn't the only one so excited by these new fibres, my mum also made a few purchases for my dad and her. The fabrics are excellent, they survived in the wash, they all kept me warm, and I'm amazed at how soft the materials felt on my skin, so much softer than the chemical fabrics, especially the bamboo. What I loved was the way each garment seemed to have a story, it was like buying a new rabbit or a dog, you get a little piece of paper which explains the fabric and how to take care of it. The shop had toys for children as well, with the name of the person who made it on the tag. It's a wonderful shop, and to be honest not over the average prices that people would pay. Similar prices to Topshop in fact :)

One thing I hope for the future is that we all go into fair trade and terminate those substandard organisations as it also will plummet our unemployed people who loiter the streets into jobs which will be much more well being.

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