This blog may be controversial, but I think it's important to look at sustainability and ethics from every angle.
This month is #SecondHandSeptember, an amazing campaign set by Oxfam to 'pledge to shop only second hand for 30 days.' Across the globe we produce approximately 80 billion pieces of clothing every year. So #SecondHandSeptember certainly reduces the amount of demand for clothing and reuses the clothes that are already out there.
However, what I have come here to say is, if we were to only shop second hand EVERY month of the year, this isn't an ethical way to shop and here's why:
I'm sure by now most people know how destructive the clothing industry is for those people at the bottom of the supply chain, the garment workers. If you don't, here's a list of a fraction of ways they are exploited on a day to day basis;
- Unsafe working environments
- Child Labour
- Working over 400 hours a month for as little as $68
- Sexual Misconduct
- Violence and abuse by factory owners
Kalpona Akter is a labour activist in Bangladesh, who was once a garment worker, working under these conditions. Despite all of the above Akter stated that 'the fashion industry is the backbone of Bangladesh's economy'. Garment workers in Bangladesh depend on our insaturable desire for dirt cheap clothing. By taking away the demand, as we have seen over the past few months during the pandemic, has been catastrophic for garment workers. They completely lost their source of income.
The question is 'how do we stop fast fashion without harming garment workers?'
The answer is, we need to demand better for the people who don't have a loud enough voice to make the changes.
- Spam brands social media accounts
- Email brands
- Expose brands
- Educate your friends
- Buy fair-trade/ ethically made
Buying ethically made products means these garment workers are now not having to make 50 garments, but only 10 for the same amount of money. It gives them better working conditions as they are not competing on offering the lowest price. It means they don't have to work huge amounts of overtime or their children don't have to work just to earn enough to eat. Now children don't have to work to survive they are able to go to school, and their parents have the disposable income to pay for said schooling. You see how much your shopping habits have a knock on effect for future generations.
So, buying only second hand may be an environmental solution, but not an ethical one.
Our new Organic Cotton double sided face cloths are ethically handmade by Gramdoaya in Kerala, India.