Last week I hosted my second "Coffee Talk". This time on the subject of the fashion industry and its impact on the environment. Speakers were Lilly Gilbert and Vicky Maskill of ‘Tallis’ the ethical winter accessories and clothes brand based in Geneva and Hansine Johnston, founder of beachwear brand 'Hansine.co'. They talked to us about some of the impacts the fashion industry has on the environment. I had no idea how many items end up in landfill. Many of those, especially acrylics, do not even biodegrade. In the USA 85% of clothes bought go into landfill. It takes 1000 bath tubs of water per household per year to make all of the clothes that are bought!
The human impact is also a massive issue. We heard about the dreadful conditions people are expected to work. Nobody could forget the 'Rana Plaza' disaster in Bangladesh in which a factory building collapsed killing 1135 people. In many countries, people are expected to work in cotton fields swimming in pesticides. They often become ill and have to buy medicines. Strangely those medicines are manufactured by the same companies who create the pesticides!
So what you can do right away
Purchase less and purchase better: 'Fast fashion' chains offer a quick fix to your wardrobe but garments often deteriorate fast and end up in the bin.
‘Shop your wardrobe’: Lay your wardrobe out on your bed and create outfits with what you already have. Get a friend over to help for a bit of fun. There’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes to reignite the appeal of a forgotten garment.
Wear garments all year round: A dress can look as good with flips flops and beads as it does with a pair of leggings, trainers and a gorgeous cardigan. Check out www.hansine.co for inspiration!
Buy Ethical brands: Find labels that source their material and create their products ethically
Recycle: Recycling extends the life of the garment and reduces the impact on the environment significantly. Extending the life of the garment by just 9 months reduces waste and water impact by 20 – 30%.
Refuse – Cut down on the amount you buy. Buy carefully, selecting good quality that will last.
Recycle – Throw a clothes swap parties, take the clothes to local charities, friends, schools…
Repair - Mend what you have or make it into something else. Tallis will take your old jumpers and make them into one of their gorgeous beanies. Visit www.thetallis.com/forever for more information.
Rot – Buy compostable clothes that are made with 100% biodegradable materials. Do your research and find brands that do this already so you don’t have to scan every label.