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As we've been gradually learning over the past few years, the garment industry is one of the largest carbon polluters on the planet and one of the greatest producers of waste, including toxic chemicals that permeate the environment and worker communities.
Slow Fashion was born as a more responsible alternative, one that considers the processes and resources required to make our clothes. It means producing fewer, better items, which are designed to last and have a lower negative impact on people and the planet.
According to UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, an estimated 92 million tonnes of textiles waste is created each year globally, which means the equivalent of a rubbish truck load of clothes is burnt or buried in landfill every second.
We are simply consuming and wasting too much, and tend to do more so as the years go by. This toxic system of overproduction and consumption wears out valuable resources, pollutes the environment, and degrades ecosystems.
Slow Fashion is the opposite. It means producing (and buying) less, with an emphasis on quality and durability. The movement advocates for learning to recognize and value craftsmanship, improving spending habits, and taking better care of our goods to prolong their lifespan.
It is estimated that 1 in 6 of the world’s workers is employed in the fashion industry. The majority work inhumane hours, sometimes in toxic, dangerous environments, without fundamental human rights. A survey conducted by Fashion Checker in 2019 shows that only 25% of the brands were using benchmarks to check if the wages being paid to the workers in their supply chains were enough to live on.
Child labour is a particular issue for the fashion industry, with children working at all stages of the supply chain: "from the production of cotton seeds in Benin, harvesting in Uzbekistan, yarn spinning in India, right through to the different phases of putting garments together in factories across Bangladesh".
Slow Fashion, on the other hand, values the fair treatment of the people who make our clothes. It is in line with this ethos that we, at She's Linen, have been independently audited, based on the BSCI Code of Conduct developed by Amfori - the leading global business association for open and sustainable trade. The 'A' rating received stands for safe, dignified working conditions and fair wages for all employees.
"Few industries are as connected to the natural world as fashion. At its most simplistic, fashion is dependent on water, on crops such as cotton, and on a whole host of animal species. Yet the fashion industry has barely begun to factor in the consequences of its actions on habitat loss, shrinking biodiversity and climate change", writes Lucy Siegle, an expert on environmental issues.
Toxic textile dyes, pesticides, and microfibres released by cheap, synthetic materials pollute our air, soil, rivers, and oceans. Here are some estimates worth considering: 20% of our world's wastewater directly results from fabric dyeing and treatment. Conventional cotton is responsible for 25% of the world's pesticide use. Plastic particles washed off from products made with synthetic materials contribute up to 35% to the primary plastic polluting our oceans.
Given the ever-growing risks posed by the degradation of ecosystems, brands simply can't continue to make clothes without considering the environment. It is why we, at She's Linen, are using fabric made of local, naturally sustainable crops, while doing our best to reduce waste (by producing on order), and making sure we responsibly dispose of it. Our production capacities are powered by green energy and we have embraced a zero-plastic policy, meaning that our linen pieces are enhanced with natural buttons and cotton labels and are delivered to you in biodegradable packaging.
Nevertheless, we need to be aware that each industrial process has a negative impact, and each piece of clothing has a negative impact, in one way or another. The idea is for us to consume with moderation and to choose the brands that strive for sustainability.
We love the Motto of Fashion Revolution, the world's largest fashion activism movement: 'Be Curious, Find Out and Do Something.'
Ask questions, read on the subject, talk to your family and friends about it. Look beneath the surface, learn to recognize and value quality. Learn to care, cultivate simplicity and moderation. And in the end, always remember the words of British designer Vivienne Westwood: "buy less, choose well, make it last."
Sources: fashionrevolution.org, ellenmacarthurfoundation.org, unicef.org, unep.org, goodonyou.eco, fashionchecker.org, theguardian.com, bbc.com, commonobjective.co
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