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While some of us are gradually learning about the environmental degradation and human rights abuses caused by the global fashion industry, many people remain unaware that their clothes may be contributing to the climate crisis and human exploitation.
The ugly truth is that 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 is proposing a kinder and more responsible approach to fashion: one that considers the processes and resources required to make our clothes. It advocates for producing fewer, better things that are designed to last and have a lower negative impact on our 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 full of clothes ends up on landfill sites every second.
We are simply consuming and wasting too much, too fast. This toxic system of overproduction and consumption wears out valuable resources, pollutes the environment, and degrades ecosystems.
Slow Fashion means producing less, with emphasis on quality and durability. It advocates for learning to recognize and value craftsmanship, cultivating our patience, and taking time to appreciate and enjoy our clothes.
An estimated 60 million workers power the global garment 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.
According to a recent press release by The International Labour Organization and UNICEF, child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years, reversing the previous downward trend between 2000 and 2016. It is estimated that 16.5 million children are working in a variety of industries, including garment making.
At She's Linen, we have been independently audited, based on the code of conduct developed by Amfori, the leading global business association for open and sustainable trade. The result is an "A" rating for social sustainability, which stands for safe, dignified working conditions and living wages for all employees.
Toxic textile dyes, pesticides, and microfibres released by cheap, synthetic materials pollute our air, soil, rivers, and oceans. To give you just a few facts: 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% of the primary plastic that is polluting our oceans.
We simply can't continue to make clothes that do not consider our environment, which is why we chose to work with fabric made of local, naturally sustainable crops that require minimal irrigation and chemical treatment. All the substances used when weaving, dyeing, or softening this linen are certified under the European Union's REACH regulation, the strictest law to date regulating chemical substances.
Nevertheless, we need to be aware that each industrial process has a negative impact, and each piece of clothing has a negative impact, 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, unicef.org, unep.org, goodonyou.eco, fashionchecker.org, bbc.com.
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