My guest author today is Lucy James. Her article deals with the real cost associated with the production of clothing. This is a very interesting read and was an eye-opener for me. I hope all my readers enjoy this as much as I did.
In the world of fashion, not everything that looks beautiful is made in such a manner. Many shady business practices, both environmental and social, have been incorporated into the fashion industry over the years. Unfortunately, with the increase in globalization and long-distance trade these wrongs have become very undetectable to the final consumer. Ethical fashion is a principle that requires one to attempt to peel back the layers of fashion manufacturing and sales in order to see the real costs associated with production. Once defined, the ethical fashionista can make an informed decision as to what brands to trust and which are harmful to society and the planet.
The Toll on the Environment
It is no secret that humans have had, and continue to have, a major impact on our planet. Recently, the environmental movement has stressed the importance of conservation and preservation seeking to reduce the size of our negative footprint. Fashion has not been immune to this criticism. Cheap production methods have led manufacturers to use materials that harm the environment. This includes, but is not limited to, toxic dyes, GMO cotton, excessive unrecyclable packaging, and so on. Furthermore, the type of energy used to produce these goods has also come under scrutiny. For example, China, a major manufacturing country, produces a large portion of its electricity through coal-fired power plants. These facilities are typically not equipped with advanced pollution control devices thus pouring millions of tons of carbon, mercury, particulates, and other pollutants into the atmosphere.
While it may be easy to see why this is undesirable, it is not as simple to figure out which clothes are produced this way. There are, however, a few simple questions consumers can ask in order to reduce their environmental footprint.
First: Are the clothes you are looking to purchase going to last? Less waste is an all-around good thing so durability will help reduce environmental cost.
Second: Is the product biodegradable, or is it made of persistent plastic or vinyl? Examining the type of material a good is made out of is also a key to its environmental friendliness.
Last: Was this product manufactured in a non-harmful way? As mentioned this is most likely the most difficult property to discern. Fortunately, there are a host of groups and organizations that aim to make this information public. Researching different brands can help purchasers realize the true costs of a piece of clothing or accessory.
Social Costs of Fashion
Even more alarming than fashion’s toll on the environment is the price some disadvantaged social groups pay. In the quest to lessen production costs, some unethical manufacturers have turned to sweat shops and child labor. These practices force those without other means to work for very little pay. Commonly, the working conditions are far less than optimal, putting such people in danger of physical harm. These jobs also threaten local cultures by eliminating ways of life that may have been practiced for centuries.
Figuring out what goods are made at large human costs can be less intuitive than calculating environmental harm. Luckily, there are many groups and movements dedicated to fighting this wrongdoing. The Fair Trade movement discourages the sale of socially harmful goods while at the same time promoting the export of merchandise produced fairly. This two-fold approach helps eliminate the demand for harmful products while providing revenue to the people so that they do not go without resources. Again, information upon the social costs of different clothing brands can be found through a little bit of research and persistence.
How You Can Use Ethical Fashion
Ethical fashion involves consumers taking the time to get informed about what they are buying. Just because the price tag of an item may display a low cost, there are a lot more factors that go into its production. When people take the time to figure out how clothing and accessories affect the environment and the different societies, they can begin to make more informed choices. Purchasing products that are free of external negative costs is, in a sense, voting with your dollar. Ideally, consumers can shape the economy of fashion so that one day such expenses will no longer exist.
Lucy James is a freelance writer helping to represent http://www.pretty-small-shoes.com. Pretty Small Shoes specialise in providing stylish footwear for ladies that usually struggle to find footwear in their small size. Pretty Small Shoes have a range or organic and fair trade clothing throughout their store.