Multiple fashion retailers were challenged this week owing to concerns that they were sourcing cotton from companies directly benefiting from the forced labour of the Uyghur region of China.
Uyghur Muslims are being forced into labour camps to produce, among other things, cotton. A coalition of hundreds of companies want to put a stop to it. I think we can all agree that the clothes we wear shouldn’t be contributing to human rights abuses and genocide.
Remember last year when Leicester went into a lockdown because Coronavirus was so rife? It turns out factory workers were producing clothes in cramped and unsafe conditions, without social distancing for example and Coronavirus broke out. These supply chains were linked to Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing. They also underpaid their workers, below the minimum wage.
Making good choices
Governments are placing sanctions on China but we all have a responsibility to wear ethical clothes and avoid waste. Some things I am trying are :
- Donate to and buy from charity, or second hand retailers
- Take your clothes for repair and or tailoring when you need to
- Keep hold of clothes you don’t wear in case you decide you like them again later
- Buy less and buy better quality
The environmental impact
Dodgy supply chains aside, fashion industry has a huge impact on the environment and is reportedly the second largest polluter in the world, according to research by sustainyourstyle.org.
Synthetic fibres such as polyester are plastic fibres and non biodegradable, and can take up to 200 years to decompose. These fibres are in 72% of our clothing.
I am trying to do the right thing with what I wear. As vegetarian there are products I no longer wear for example, but we all have a responsibility to minimise the impact on the planet and the people who produce the clothes we wear.