Western Europe buys 33% of the world’s clothes, but we only make up 6% of the world’s population…
We all love to look good and grab a bargain. But we have to start thinking critically about our appetite for ‘throwaway fashion’ and of practical ways to enjoy the clothes we wear, while being in solidarity with workers around the world and cutting down our environmental impact.
The tragic collapse of a major clothing factory in Bangladesh in 2013 shone a light on the poor working conditions and lack of safety regulations that many people face in the global clothing industry.
It’s challenging for retailers to monitor a string of subcontractors and suppliers all around the world, but through consumer pressure here in Ireland we can act in solidarity and campaign for greater transparency in the supply chain and better working conditions for workers in garment factories.
Energy is used in every stage of clothes production, from farming the cotton to transporting the clothes to your wardrobe – with dying, cutting, sewing and packaging in between.
The textile industry uses huge amounts of water. It takes up to 2,720 litres of water to produce one cotton t-shirt! That's about the amount of water that an average person drinks over three years. Demand from our throwaway fashion culture has even caused water shortages in certain countries. While the intensive use of pesticides and insecticides in cotton farming mean that toxic compounds find their way into water systems.
There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of clothing sent to landfill. On average each of us now throws away approx 30kg of textiles in the bin each year.
Trócaire is part of the Clean Clothes Ireland Campaign. Together we campaign for companies to take responsibility for workers’ rights throughout their supply chains, for governments to legislate on corporate responsibility and to support workers in their struggles for decent working conditions. Join the Clean Clothes campaign today.
Embrace the new phenomena of Swishing: invite your friends over and ask them to bring a lovely but unloved piece of clothing or two so that someone else can fall in love with it. Everyone goes home with a revived wardrobe and full wallets.
Check out your local charity shop next time you feel in the mood for a shopping spree, there are often lots of bargains and gems to be found.
Charities can recycle even unwearable clothes, so think of recycling clothes which are stained, worn or torn which you may otherwise have put in the bin.
If you really can’t resist buying something new, make sure it’s made to last, and under fair working conditions. To find out more check out Fairtrade Ireland.