The following is a guest post from Eco Bird founder, Danielle.
To me sustainable and ethical fashion is the only kind of fashion that is beautiful. To wear something that was made with love and care towards the earth and the people who make our clothing adds so much more meaning and beauty to the clothing in our wardrobes then any designer label.
Whilst working and studying in the fashion industry I started to question its ethical and environmental impacts. It soon became clear that exploitation of people and our beautiful planet had snowballed into a huge issue within the fashion industry. The fashion and retail manufacturing industry is one of the most polluting industries on Earth, second only to oil.
After researching textile industry pollution and sustainable solutions I soon realised how little we as consumers know about what we actually spend our money on, and how much power we have to change the negative impacts within the fashion industry.
I launched EcoBird.net just over ten months ago with the hope to encourage and inspire new people to adopt sustainable attitudes towards clothing. Eco Bird is an Australian based online clothing store committed to selling some of Australia’s and New Zealand’s most innovative and inspiring sustainable and ethical fashion labels. We search for styles that are unique, fun, and versatile to show everyone that eco-fashion is just as creative and fashion forward in design as conventional fashion. We believe that knowledge is power and have created a space on our website and blog to share everything we know about sustainable fashion and fashion industry pollution. We want to provide everyone with the knowledge needed to make sustainable fashion decisions.
Like many industries, the fashion industry is one that is closely linked to the environment and its natural resources. At every stage of a garments lifecycle there are environmental impacts from the huge amounts of pesticides and insecticides sprayed on cotton, to the amount of chemicals, water and energy used in dyeing and printing fabrics. These poisons leach into our soils and waterways and are sometimes intentionally poured straight into rivers and oceans. A single mill in China can use 200 tons of water for each ton of fabric it dyes; many rivers run with next seasons trend colours as the untreated toxic dyes wash off from mills. With the ‘fast-fashion’ and ‘disposable fashion’ trends emerging recently, these garments are being made as cheaply as possible and the quality of garments the charity and op shops are now receiving are worse than ever. Many garments cannot be resold for a second chance of life, with most ending up in landfill.
Not only are there plenty of environmental concerns but there are also social impacts as well. Maybe I was naive growing up, but things like sweatshops, child labour and forced labour are more common then I realised. In many cases conditions such as unsafe working conditions, physical, sexual and verbal abuse, long shifts (sometimes forced overtime with no pay), and very low wages are leaving workers living life day to day.
Many people making our clothing overseas in third world countries are in vulnerable positions struggling to feed their families and themselves and are often heavily taken advantage of to ensure companies still make a profit from lowering retail prices. According to ‘Fashioning Change’ if all name brands selected to increase wages by one percent of profits, 125 million people worldwide would be taken out of poverty. This is just one example of how fashion can be so much more than just clothing and create a positive change throughout the world rather than having a negative impact.
There are so many ways to enjoy fashion sustainably and ethically. Look for the Fair Trade and Ethical Clothing Australia labels, find out where and how your favourite brands make their products and if it’s not sustainable and ethical let them know this is something you care about. Through Eco Bird we have found so many labels and designers that go out of their way to create fashion sustainably and ethically and we know there are so many more out there that are doing the right thing and deserve support.
From organic, sustainable fabrics, eco-friendly dyes and manufacturing methods, to buying pre-loved clothes, recycling fabrics, re-designing, mending what we have, handmade styles, locally made fashion, buying less and choosing more carefully, there is always a way to be sustainable when it comes to our clothing – no matter what your budget or style is.
Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to make the right decisions but it does hurt to make the wrong ones. I’ve discovered sustainable fashion is all about finding the connection between you, the things you buy and the impact it has, because when you buy something, you’re connecting with everyone and everything involved in creating the garment for you.
Founder for Eco Bird – www.ecobird.net
‘Anytime you spend money, you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want.’ Anna Lappe
Don’t forget to head over to our website! We are daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers getting on with practical climate action to live better for us and the planet. Join the movement at www.1millionwomen.com.au