In my previous blog, I wanted to highlight just a few of the issues involved in ‘ethical fashion’. This time I want to make some suggestions of how we can find clothes that won’t have caused suffering or death to the people who make them. So here goes:
- Plan your wardrobe (more on this in the next blog).
- Be aware that retailers do take notice of YOU. Every £ spent is a vote cast for a particular way of production. Retailers look at sales figures and ask if people cared about conditions of production, would they keep buying these items. So tell them and show them you do care.
According to Katharine Hamnett, we really do have influence. She recommends that you write to shops you like and ask them about their ethical policies, tell them where you stand and how you will not be able to continue shopping at their stores if you don’t see them caring about workers and the planet. She says they will definitely listen and take notice the more they are challenged.
- Research. Continuing from the above – ask questions. Shops will probably tell you that they pay the recommended wage of the government of the country. That is often an amount that wouldn’t enable workers to buy the minimum food they need to function. They may also tell you that they would pay more if productivity increased. This is not an argument: 60 first year students at Northumbria University spent a day producing t-shirts and made 95 where workers in Bangladesh would have been expected to produce 900 under the same conditions!
You need to ask if they are paying the ‘ASIA FLOOR WAGE’ – this is the wage for the legal working week that allows someone to buy the same amount of goods and services in the local currency as a US consumer could for $475.
- Buy ethical. Look out for ‘organic’, ‘fair trade’ and things that have been responsibly dyed in an environmentally friendly way. The ‘soil association’ logo is particularly good. These websites are full of information: made-by.org, cleanclothes.org, waronwant.org, cleanclothes.org, fairwear.org, labourbehindthelabel.org,
A few well known brands do care more than the rest. M&S are working to be ethical and have even started opening their own factories. Buying ethical fashion isn’t just about buying things that are ‘less bad’ but things from companies who are actually investing in people and the environment, promoting poverty alleviation, teaching skills to workers etc. www.peopletree.com is an excellent place to start.
- Make things. There are organic and eco wools to knit with and ethical fabrics.
- Buy 2nd hand & keep circulating your Wheelie Case…..!
- But more than anything, if you’re concerned about not wanting to buy clothes that are made in sweat shops, pray for God’s direction…