“Sustainable fashion, What for?” A really short-sighted design teacher I once had used to say this kind of things to us; or that sustainable is useless, silly or “just for the posers.” His way of thinking summarizes that of the vast majority of people with whom I have talked about the subject and that is what I find worrisome. We must fight to change that way of thinking, which is the only thing that can really change things a little. And of course, the fashion industry needs some changes. Yes, I know. Nobody can change the world. But we can all contribute a little.
In the next post of my blog I will talk in detail about how to choose intelligently the fibers with which we dress, alternatives of natural fibers, and ideas of ecological fashion. And on the current one, I am only going to expose some of the big problems of the current fashion.
However deceived we may be by the current publicity and however much we live in our bubble of comfort; we can not ignore them, and we should make them our priority by pure survival instinct.
1. “But nowadays everything contaminates.”
Many people do not care about the effects that the fashion industry may have as long as they remain distant. Who cares for your day to day to contaminate a river thousands of kilometers from your residence? But, on this planet, everything is connected, whether we like it or not.
Here I leave some disturbing data:
The textile industry occupies the disgraceful second position among the most polluting in the world, because, the decomposition of some fibers takes centuries.
Experts remind us that 70 million barrels of oil are used per year to produce polyester, while fiber, according to experts, takes 200 years to decompose. The rayon or Iyocell (tencel) ends with 70 million trees per year.
The cultivation of natural fibers, such as cotton, is the one that consumes the most pesticides: 24% of all insecticides and 11% of all pesticides in the world that affect land and water.
Even if it’s organic cotton, you may have needed 5000 gallons of water to make your shirt and jeans. ”
Source: http: //www.hispantv.com/noticias/economia/335702/moda-industria-ropa-textil-petroleo-contaminante
2. Artificial dyes stain entire rivers, causing damage to entire populations, humans and natural ecosystems. In addition to damaging those who manipulate them.
“In China we know what is the fashionable color in the West because of the color with which the rivers are dyed each season.” A year ago I read this phrase by Gema Gómez, the founder of Slow Fahion Spain and I can not help but remember it without feeling Every time there’s a big chill, this is just one of the toxic consequences of fashion, what are we doing? “
Not everything contaminates the same. Knowing the effects of what we buy can be beneficial for everyone. I encourage you to reflect on what is behind the big fashion industry, and how we can avoid contributing to this pace of unbridled consumption and pollution.
Ok, let’s suppose that we do not care about the rest of the planet or that it seems to us a huge and uncabarcable topic (that usually happens). Although I have to say that the earth is an interconnected ecosystem. Yes, what happens on the other side of the planet affects us. But let’s focus on each one of us. The dyes and polluting substances used in the textile industry are also incorporated into the food chain and are filtered in soils causing environmental contamination. We inhale part of the dyes and chemicals that our fabrics carry, and these also affect the health of our skin, our perspiration …
Data of interest: IMPORTANT STUDY CARRIED OUT BY GREENPEACE “TOXIC STITCHES” http://archivo-es.greenpeace.org/espana/Global/espana/report/contaminacion/detox.pdf
2. “But if it generates employment, what are they complaining about? It would be worse if they did not have a job.”
The idea of locating textile production in countries where it is less expensive and where the average worker’s salary is cheaper may not sound so bad a priori. The problem is when the owners of these companies become millionaires worldwide, and the workers of these developing countries are not even paid the minimum wage in their country. In addition, the fact of relocating production causes companies in our own country to massively break up, family businesses, life-long businesses, entire regions.
And, in the countries where the factories are located now; the workers are nothing but total slaves in most of the cases. They work too much hours, without a good salary, without a break or good safety and security conditions. Sometimes, they are starving and faint. Sometimes, there are even children working. Is that creating jobs, really? Do we need to reach such extremes? As we see, the theory is fine but not at the end.
One of the most serious problems, derived from the relocation of the factories, is the subcontractor. This makes it impossible for entrepreneurs, even if they wanted to, to maintain control over the situation in the factories that make their products.
I leave some curious facts about it.
-Cutting innumerable garments a day without a protective mask, causing the inhalation of particles of fabrics with their corresponding dyes and chemicals, and exposing yourself to this daily many hours causes asthma and more serious disorders. Very few factories comply with safety regulations. More information at: http://www.lasexta.com/programas/salvados/avances/trabajadora-asiatica-industria-textil-nos-tratan-como-animales-como-perro-gato_201602145723bf974beb28d44600017e.html
-The same applies to the lack of fire extinguishers, adequate evacuation plans in case of emergency, chemical or toxic protection. I do not leave sources because they are too numerous. Please, search the internet for the latest news of collapses or disasters in factories, most of them for not fulfilling a minimum of security and the majority with fatalities.
-In many cases, pregnant women, sick people, children work. Yes, children. Try to imagine a child who is malnourished and haggard, sewing the clothes you are wearing for hours. It’s really necessary? Sources: http://features.hrw.org/features/HRW_2015_reports/Cambodia_Garment_Workers/index.html
-On the other hand, the relocation of textile factories not only generates misery for those who work in them in Southeast Asian countries. It is also a system that has devastated entire areas of our own country, without going any further, that were once prosperous industrial zones; As shown in the video below:
The jobs that big brands generate are in many cases then precarious, close to slavery. Do you really still think that these are some ways to generate positive employment and a contribution to the community? Can not there be other ways to do it?
3. “There are more important things to do than think about fashion.”
What are you wearing now? Pijama? Sneakers? Suit? What’s in your closet?
Yes, for all those people who only buy textile or fashion products (shoes, accessories etc …) for their simple use, such as suits, coats when it is cold, etc. For all those who are not “fashion victims”, you You also contribute to all this, because although you consume by pure necessity generally, if you buy your clothes from some of the big brands; they might be also responsable of all of this.
4. “So, then, What can I do?”
Investigate Read. It does not cost much, it does not consume much time.
There are several alternatives to traditional fashion to begin with. Numerous small businesses, small brands. Made more local, more familiar, more from your country. Young people, entrepreneurs, new designers. And others, within the big brands, many of them are being aware that this system is not sustainable in the long run, and they are carrying out interesting initiatives.
Whether you love fashion, you need to constantly change and be up to date, as if you simply consume the clothing you need on a day-to-day basis; There are solutions to be more sustainable. The current rate of consumption is absurd (have you ever stopped to think about it?) and unsustainable.
Anyway, my next post will be dedicated to thoroughly analyze all these alternatives and provide web pages and specific companies that I found useful or interesting. And I will also talk about a very important parallel issue. Do you know the Greenwashing?
Some interesting documentaries:
Blogger denounces clothing store for labor exploitation:
More information in the article: https://afcarmedia.com/2014/11/09/los-autenticos-fashion-victims/
I took al the photos:
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0