Friday, 6 September 2013

Keep Up The Good Work

Sometimes it can seem like there's no point to ethical fashion. No matter how hard we try, the industry remains for the most part uncaring about the world it's polluting and the people it uses up and spits out. Why do we even bother?

Well, there's grounds for hope as much as despair. An article from Ethical Consumer researcher Bryony Moore for the Guardian shows us how, although there's a long way left to go, there's also been some pretty significant progress on the road to ethical fashion.

The main point I always make when talking about what defines ethical fashion, particularly with reference to Pier32's clothing, is that it should be sweatshop- and child labour free. The cotton industry in Uzbekistan is one of the biggest and most recent horror stories. Forced child labour is rife--we're talking your actual child slavery here. Campaigns headed up by the Responsible Sourcing Network have led to dozens of the big high street names, including Adidas and H&M, pledging to stop using Uzbek cotton until slave labour is banned. That's major progress on one of the main tentpoles of the ethical fashion movement.

There's plenty more to be hopeful about, from awareness of the dangers of sandblasting jeans--a process that can cause silicosis for the workers who have to distress the fabric--to successful campaigns against toxic dyes in ground water and, of course, the public outcry over health and safety abuses that led to tragedies like the Rana Plaza disaster.

One thing all this has in common--the successes come out of committed and tireless campaigners at the grass roots level making sure that the public become aware of the awful things of which the fashion industry can be capable. In the digital age, it's easier than ever to network, organise and get the word out. That's why, although, progress can be slow, it's being made in all sorts of areas that would otherwise be roundly ignored. It's a tough job, but such a worthwhile one.

For more, read Bryony's article.

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