Arguably Christmas is the time to consume! Every year the majority of us are forced by relatives and friends to make extensive lists of every item we would like to wake up to under the tree, nevertheless it’s time for a change. We’ve all been made aware at some point or another of the often exploitative and harsh manufacturing methods adopted specifically in the fashion sector, yet every year the majority of us choose to turn a blind eye and buy, buy, buy. With many businesses starting to promote their ethical standing and recognising greater consumer demand for responsibly manufactured goods, it’s hard to believe that popular high-street chains and online stores still resort to these backward cost-saving methods-yet they do!
It would be easy to say it’s not our fault, that everyone does it and that it’s the advertisers that manipulate us and make us feel like we just NEED those shoes! We’re all guilty, because sometimes the shoes really are just too beautiful to ignore!! The truth of the matter is, fashion is an art that is loved by many and forms part of our everyday lives, thus forming an unstoppable industry. However, until there is greater transparency as to where and how clothing and accessories are produced, is it appropriate for us to spend so hastily? At the end of the day, we need to know more!
The not-for-profit organisation, Fashion Revolution, have recently been promoting ethical awareness of clothing manufacturing and sustainability and how we can gradually overcome these issues. Their solutions range from pressuring companies to accept responsibility for their supply chains by providing full manufacturing transparency, to teaching people how to make and mend their clothes instead of always buying brand new.
The importance of our buying decisions run much deeper than they appear at face value. Fashion Revolution specifically discusses how 80% of the people employed to make our clothes are women in poverty-stricken countries and how this is stunting progress in these countries regarding gender issues, as many are exploited to physical abuse and unsafe working conditions. Furthermore, while many argue that “at least this ensures people living in poverty are being paid something”, the limited pay still means they cannot afford basic necessities-why should we settle for this unfair wage when they can be paid a fair amount?
Not only are people suffering at the hands of western habits of mass consumption, but so is the environment. We consistently buy and throw away clothing, more often than not, feeling the loss of the money we’ve spent and painfully removing those wasted purchases of the past that we never got around to wearing. But further down the line, this waste is added to already over-flowing landfills, while the chemicals such as dyes and treatments pollute rivers and destroy animal habitats.
As we grow older, maybe it’s time to decide where we stand on this issue and how greater role we’re comfortable playing in stopping it. However, in the meantime, with Christmas just around the corner, here are some special Her Campus solutions for those who want to give a little extra this holiday!
Oxfam – Oxfam offer a great range of fun, affordable and unique gifts. Maybe instead of giving your Mum another scarf, get her a goat. Sadly, she wouldn’t actually get a goat, but someone else in the world who really needs it will! Other options include feeding a family, or providing 10 people with safe drinking water. For just £5 you can give someone soap, while a mosquito net is £11-these menial costs that would normally go towards pointless and disposable purchases could instead save lives! Oxfam also offer add on gifts, so every time you donate in someone else’s name, they will receive a Christmas card with a personalised message and chocolates, a mulled wine kit, or worry dolls, should you choose this option.
When it comes to buying for ourselves, Oxfam also have an online shop for purchasing clothes, books, homeware and entertainment goods. It’s all super cheap and most importantly super sustainable! Check it out here: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop
Fashion Revolution – the organisation are currently selling books, or their ‘bi-annual Fashion Revolution fanzine”. These books, entitled “Loved Fashion Lasts” and “Money Fashion Power”, contain illustrations, poetry, photography, tips and information on their movement and their cause. They’re all printed on 100% recycled paper, using vegetable inks, moreover, proceeds go towards growing the movement and pressuring change. Click here to find out more: http://fashionrevolution.org/resources/fanzine2/
For additional information on how to get involved with their cause, you can visit their website too: http://fashionrevolution.org/
Research: Our final tip is to carry out research! It doesn’t take long to search a high street chain and ascertain whether its ethics meet your personal standards and these days many brands are increasingly revealing more about their manufacturing standards with the aim to reassure customers. In addition, as a current issue, many newspapers and documentary producers are exposing various chains in an effort to force their honesty. If you don’t feel as though your once favourite brands align with your ethics then make a change! Exeter offers alternatives through high street store Sancho’s, whose mission statement states “We believe ethical fashion can change the world”. In addition, charity shops offer a cheap alternative and often vintage, unique and stylish finds.
At this time of year shopping responsibly can be a serious struggle! But where there’s a will there’s a way and any responsible purchase is a step in the right direction. Fashion is an art that shouldn’t have to be such a substantial sacrifice, so by joining the cause together, we move closer towards serious change.