Fashion industry is not just all about glitz and glamour. Hidden in plain sight, are an army of workers. Behind a fashion piece, lie real people who do not get paid fairly. People, as consumers, should actively make choices and ask for transparency. #whomademyclothes Where do our clothes come from? From the fibre extraction to processing till the end of the line, where it is made available to be purchased by a consumer. Details should be made accessible so that we can make sustainable choices.
We declare that we want clothes that are sustainably made, from end to end, but are we willing to meet them halfway, pay more to support the cause for sustainability?
Ethical wool, cashmere, alpaca fabrics cost more because of the extra care, processing and fair wage that is provided to workers involved. Even though, we would pay more at the time being, it would cost us less, in the long run.
With the help of technology, we can turn textile industry into a more sustainable and affordable one. It is expensive to make sustainable products because we lack the fast paced machinery or technology to do so.
Textile dyeing uses huge quantity of water, amounting to almost 20 per cent of the global waste. Fabric printing releases ammonia and hydrocarbons that pollute the air. An alternate solution to printing, could be that companies can switch to embroidery and textile patches. Recycling and upcycling of materials can help lower wastage and promote circular economy.
Interest in sustainable fashion is rising, as companies around the world are experimenting with new methods to reduce pollution. Creating textiles out of waste, dyeing without using water and generating smart textiles.
FAIR WAGE TO WORKERS
According to 2017 report, only 4% of retail prices of fast-fashion goes into the salaries of garment workers. Bangladesh and Vietnam are the largest garment producers, but the minimum wage is less than one dollar an hour.
The workers earn just enough to eat on a day to day basis, but not sufficient to tend to their other needs. If 5 per cent of retail prices would go to workers, factory workers could be paid living wages, which should be enough to cover their daily expenses and leave them with some money left to set aside for emergencies.
CALL FOR ATTENTION
A company is sustainable, when it is actively working to lower their carbon and social footprint for as much as possible. It is not organic or sustainable, if workers are exploited. How a product came into existence is something we should all look out for. We should aim for a world without fast-fashion, where protecting the planet and its people is more important than the big paychecks that companies secure by taking advantage of poor communities.
Sustainability starts from within. If a brand claims themselves GREEN, they should consider the workers too.
Article by Nafeesah Ahmed