This week we mark the third anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. It was on 24 April 2013 that Bangladesh’s worst industrial accident took place taking the lives of 1,134 people and injuring 2,515 more.
As it’s Fashion Revolution Week and is the biggest event in any ethical fashionistas calendar, I thought I’d devote another post to help consumers become more aware of how demanding transparency helps makes the fashion industry more accountable.
First off, if you’ve never taken part before, here’s what you need to do to join in on the Fashion Revolution cause:
Wear your clothes inside out, with the label showing, post a pic of it, tag the brand and hashtag #whomademyclothes #fashrev
You can wait until Fashion Revolution Day on April 24 or you can just post a pic each and every day until the end of the week. It’s completely up to you.
Now in addition to this, here are seven other ways you can help to end fast fashion and transform the industry to a more ethical, sustainable and fair one:
1. Notify the fashion brand of your concerns.
Send an email, tweet or leave a social media comment with the fast fashion brand outlining your concerns about their garments and/or accessories and ask them if they would consider making changes. Make sure that you follow up if you don’t receive a reply.
Tip: Be persistent. Email the brand numerous times if you have to. Whatever it takes to get a response.
2. Boycott fast fashion brands.
If you’re continuing to shop at fast fashion brands such as H&M and Primark, why not consider giving them up? If you’re unsure about their ethical status, check out shopping apps and tools such as the Good on You app as these organisations have done extensive research and rated brands based on many ethical factors.
Tip: Boycotting is difficult for many people. If this is difficult, I encourage you to replace the behaviour with a more positive one instead. So instead of looking at it as “giving up” XYZ fashion brand, look at it as “supporting” a fairer, more sustainable industry.
3. Money talks. Vote with your wallet.
Because our global economy is built on modern capitalism (not the kind of capitalism that moral philosopher and political economist Adam Smith encouraged in his famous book Wealth of Nations) the premise goes something like this: companies produce goods to meet the demands of consumers so that they can make a profit.
Thus if consumers demand better, companies are forced to produce better. So if you take your dollars and spend it on ethical fashion, you as a consumer are telling private industry that this is what you want. And the more of us who do this, the more that industry pays attention.
We know that doing the right thing is often not the primary motivator for producers and capitalists. So let’s force them to do the right thing by motivating them with our money.
As author and sustainability educator Anne Lappe stated: “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
Tip: Before making a purchase, make sure to do your research first. What may be advertised as ‘ethical’ and ‘green’ could just be clever greenwashing.
4. Make your voice heard.
If you boycott a brand, if you are unhappy with a fast fashion garment, if for any reason at all you are dissatisfied, by all means make your voice heard and share your story and experience with the rest of us. Tweet about it, Facebook it, Instagram it, write a blog post about it. Whatever you do, please do not keep your thoughts and experiences to yourself. The only way to improve the fashion industry is to share what you know with others so that others may learn, become informed and make better fashion choices.
Tip: You don’t need to be as loud as the rest of us if it’s not your style. You can always start with just your immediate circle of influence such as family and close friends.
5. Promote ethical fashion labels.
At Eco Warrior Princess we understand that the odds are stacked against small independent ethical fashion labels so we try to do all we can (within our time and resource constraints of course) to help promote ethical brands to our audience.
So we share relevant Kickstarter campaigns on social media (and sometimes contribute our own funds to them) and many of the articles we write focus on brands and organisations that provide consumers with better fashion alternatives.
Tip: You don’t have to take to social media or start an ethical fashion blog if it’s not your “thing”. By purchasing ethical fashion and wearing it, and sharing your finds with your immediate family and friends, you will already be playing your part in helping the cause.
6. Sharing is caring.
None of us was born with the knowledge that we now possess about fast fashion. But through discussion, self-education, reading blogs and ethical fashion books, watching relevant videos and learning through experience, we now know better.
And you can help others shift their thinking and behaviour by sharing what you know with them. Don’t forget to encourage them to join in on Fashion Revolution Day too!
Tip: It is evident that mindsets are changing as more and more people favour social and environmentally conscious businesses. You can help the ethical movement along by sharing documentaries, books and thought-provoking articles with your networks.
7. Write to your members of parliament/government.
As consumers we hold a lot of power over fashion companies by way of our monetary vote. But don’t forget that we also hold lots of power over our governments through our electoral vote. So let’s get our politicians to act in our best interests (for a change). Let’s get them to hold private industry accountable for wrong doings and misdemeanours. Let’s ask that they create policy that promotes greater transparency in our fashion industry. Because we can’t expect fast fashion to self-regulate. It just doesn’t work. Look how well that’s turned out *she says sarcastically*.
Tip: If you need some help with writing your letter, check out these helpful hints.
So which one of these tips will you put in practice for Fashion Revolution Week?
To learn more about how the fast fashion industry has impacted people and planet, we recommend you grab the book Wardrobe Crisis: How We Went From Sunday Best to Fast Fashion.
For more information or resources, head to fashionrevolution.org