Since the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, and the subsequent 2015 documentary The True Cost that exposes unethical practices and unregulated production of clothing, it is important to keep the discussion going about sustainable practices in the clothing industry – especially where materials come from and in what environment is it made.
The topic continues to garner attention, with many companies being exposed to their unjust practices and the demand for transparency and morality in the fashion industry influencing many chain stores and independent brands to switch to sustainability in all processes of production.
The Ethical Fashion Forum defines ethical fashion as "an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximises benefits to people and communities while minimising impact on the environment".
The ABC uncovered on their War of Waste Stories in 2017 that Australians throw away around 6,000 kilograms of clothing every ten minutes. Yes – you read that right. While that might seem unfathomable to some, it is the reality and a growing trend that we must have the latest in all things fashion and a 'wear it once, throw it out' mentality in the younger generations. This is made worse by the fact that many of these textiles aren't environmentally friendly. No wonder the fashion industry is the second biggest pollution contributor on earth, only behind oil.
Fibres used in sustainable clothing include bamboo, hemp and flax. They are usually produced organically, requiring much less water than cotton and can be recycled easily. The World Wildlife Fund states that it takes "more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton; equivalent to a single t shirt and pair of jeans". These materials use much less.
The Ethical Fashion Forum uses a set of criteria with key issues on how a company works sustainably and ethically. These include:
- Countering fast, cheap fashion and damaging patterns of fashion consumption
- Defending fair wages, working conditions and workers' rights
- Supporting sustainable livelihoods
- Addressing toxic pesticide and chemical use
- Using and/or developing eco-friendly fabrics and components
- Minimising water use
- Recycling and addressing energy efficiency and waste
- Developing or promoting sustainability standards for fashion
- Resources, training and/or awareness raising initiatives
- Animal rights
Source: Ethical Fashion For
With companies like Ethical Fashion Forum and Ethical Clothing Australia, which works with companies to remain transparent, it is great to see many businesses working toward more humane, sustainable practices in all realms of the fashion industry.
Why Mary, strives to operate with ethical, sustainable practices. This includes, slow fashion, short manufacturing runs, reducing waste, recycling materials where possible, solar energy, making a conscientious effort to avoid the use of plastic; fair work place and practices offering employment opportunities. To find out more, visit our website here.