THE PROBLEM WITH FAST FASHION
Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all use fashion as a form of self-expression.
While this is not a new phenomenon, our buying habits have changed drastically over the past twenty years. Since 2000, we’ve purchased 60% more clothing items but owned the clothes for half the amount of time; 40% of our clothes go unworn. According to clothes waste charity TRAID, the average garment is only worn 10 times before it is thrown away. This increase in demand for production results in higher demand upon garment workers.
The global fashion industry employs 50 million people worldwide. While it can be a source of opportunity, for too many garment workers around the globe- indignity, abuse, low-wages and modern slavery are rife.
The fast fashion industry designs, produces and supplies clothing at a breakneck speed at the expense of workers. These workers are often vulnerable because of their immigration status or the lax labor laws in their countries. This is because companies are in a race for cheaper labor and production, which encourages the textile industry to cut corners. This causes harsh working conditions where many of the garment workers don’t receive a fair, living wage and are subject to physical and psychological abuse.
What can you do?
ETHICAL CLOTHING GUIDE
Each year, Baptist World Aid releases an Ethical Clothing guide. This resource is really helpful in informing you about which brands are putting people and planet before profit. https://baptistworldaid.org.au/resources/ethical-fashion-guide/
PARTICIPATE IN A CLOTHING SWAP
“Swaps are opening people’s eyes to a completely new way of doing things. The old way was shop and buy. The new model is swap and borrow.” Patrick Duffy (Founder of Global Fashion Exchange)
Swapping clothing is a great way to prevent clothing from going to the landfill. In the face of complex issues in the fashion industry, swapping clothing can be the first step in the right direction. This way we can practice being a conscious consumer with the things we already own!
3 TIPS FOR CLOTHING SWAPS
Tip #1 CLEAN CLOTHES
The clothing swap works on as a one-to-one exchange system where a swapper can receive one garment if they donated one garment. Only swap clothing you can envision someone else wearing and being happy to have in their closet. This means choosing clothing that is free of stains, holes and tears. Make sure you wash the clothing to get rid of undesirable odours and iron them to remove wrinkles.
Tip #2 CHOOSE CLOTHING
Consider what pieces your swapper community would like to own. Do you have any pieces that you haven’t worn that someone else could use? Look in your closet and really consider the high-quality garments that no longer serve you. Reflect on the last time you wore each piece of clothing, how you felt while wearing it and whether you’ll wear it in the upcoming months. Being intentional about the clothing you give away will help swappers receive beautiful clothing that they will cherish. Remember that you cannot change your mind once a swap is made. Being emotionally detached to items that are no longer serving you will help you participate in a successful clothing swap.
Tip # 3 RAISE AWARENESS
Consider sharing about the issues within the fashion industry with your friends and family. This can help start conversations on what needs to change in the fashion industry, how to get further involved in ethical fashion and how fashion can be a force for good.