Slow down: My five-year-old son adores superheroes. He imagines he is a Spearman and climbs the walls, tells about Superman to anyone who is willing to listen and on special nights replaces the blanket with a robe. Everyone tells me that soon he will find out he has no powers over and it will pass him by. But the truth is that we all have powers over and over time our powers grow.
What if I told you that your wallet has superpowers? And not just superpowers, the power to save the world. I do not mean it as a metaphor, our consumer choices have created the climate crisis and they can also fix and save us from the greatest threat to humanity.
But before jumping into solutions, it is important to know the problem. At the tip of the iceberg – the climate crisis was caused by greenhouse gas emissions into the air, with the increase in emissions over the past fifty years leading to global warming – the one that causes melting glaciers in the poles, Middle Eastern forms and food shortages around the globe.
How does this relate to shopping? The amount of clothing produced in the world increased from the 1980s to the present by 400 percent and with it the amount of textile waste also increased by 600 percent. In other words, we buy a lot more clothes than before, but use them much less. Add to that the fact that the production process of clothing is often a very polluting process, from growing and dyeing cotton, which requires the use of over 8,000 toxic chemicals, to landfilling at the end of use, which irreversibly pollutes the groundwater in Africa. In fact the fashion industry is today considered to be the second most polluting industry on the planet.
It is important to mention, the environmental issue is not the only sick evil in the fashion industry. The industry is based, for the most part, on modern slavery and hard exploitation, mostly of women and children. For example, workers in textile factories work between 72 and 96 hours a week, and during each of these hours, they will sew between 60 and 100 items per hour. Above them will suffer physical and verbal abuse while doing so for less than $ 3 a day.
This information is important all year round, but is especially important now in November, known by its popular name as “Shopping Month.” We are in the midst of the promotions season, with commercials for Black Friday promotions, Chinese Bachelors Day, CyberMandi and more flooding us from every corner. Everyone is trying to persuade us to buy clothes that we do not need at all, because now they are cheaper, and the price as always the planet will pay.
It should be emphasized, the reason for the so widespread environmental damage as well as the dimensions of slavery is the cheap price of fast fashion. The attempt to get the price of a garment as cheap as possible, leads to the widespread use of toxic and inexpensive chemicals in dyeing, the choice of burning and burying unwanted clothes, over recycling and poor quality of clothes, which makes them almost disposable.
The drop in the price per square meter of fabric from the 1980s to the present is almost perfectly correlated with the drop in hourly pay and adherence to basic safety conditions would have prevented the deaths of over 100 workers killed in work accidents at textile plants from early 2021. Simply put there is no such thing as clothing Cheap, there are only clothes that someone else has already paid the price for.
So how can our wallet save the world? Luckily for us as there is fast fashion there is slow fashion. A fashion that is fair, that does not involve exploitation and creates as little pollution as possible. Slow fashion includes second-hand clothes, renewed clothes (ie clothes from textile scraps, sheets, curtains or the dismantling of other clothes), fair-trade clothes, local fashion and independent designers and above all the willingness to buy fewer quantities of clothes and pay more for our clothes.
Choosing sustainable fashion, in all its shades and issues, will allow the people who work in it, designers and workers in factories alike, to continue to produce an alternative to fast fashion, and no less important to grow and sweep the entire fashion industry, until a new standard is produced. The ability to change is in our hands, or rather in our wallets.
The author is a researcher in fashion and environmental justice from the Department of Public Policy at Tel Aviv University
Source: Maariv.co.il – אופנה by www.maariv.co.il.
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