From fairtrade clothing to vintage chic, our columnist Jo Wood explains how you can remain stylish while being kind to the planet
I’ve always loved fashion – it’s been a part of me ever since I was a kid. My mum was very fashionable in the Sixties and I used to love the clothes that Twiggy wore.
I’m a big vintage girl – there’s nothing I love more than rummaging through the rails of vintage clothing shops and finding some new gem that I can customise. I think we have more than enough clothes in this country and it saddens me to think about the growing obsession with cheap, disposable clothing, which clogs up our landfill sites.
That’s why I’m particularly proud to be an ambassador for the People Tree Foundation and have experienced first hand the good work that they do to encourage fair trade and sustainable fashion. Last year I visited a fairtrade community in Bangladesh with them and was totally inspired. These communities are entirely self-sufficient and the workers are paid a fair wage for their work. In contrast I also visited the slums where I saw women living in small rooms with six other people, separated from their children for months on end and locked in factories at night so they can’t leave. These conditions were so shocking that it made me realise how important it is to raise awareness of the fairtrade movement. As consumers we need only pay a little more for our clothing in order for the workers to be treated properly and work in safe and reasonable conditions. Adding just 10p onto some items would increase a worker’s pay packet by 20 per cent per year, which is nothing short of life-changing for some communities.
While I love my fashion, I do find it a struggle to find desirable trend-led clothing that ticks all my eco boxes – sustainable, organic, ethical and fairtrade. I feel as consumers we need to unite and make a stand; we need to challenge manufacturers and designers to invest more heavily in this area – only public demand has the power to do this.
This brings me to another great organisation that I’ve been working with – the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion. I’ve been involved with them for many years now and I really enjoy seeing first hand how the work of young designers is evolving and taking into consideration the ethical concerns we face today.
Lastly, I thought I’d leave you with this thought. Research shows the average woman throws away £12,000 of clothes in her lifetime, many of which have never been worn, with the majority going into landfill. Isn’t it worth investing in beautiful wellmade garments that are going to last, or seeking out a great vintage buy, rather than plumping for cheap disposable clothing?
Until next time – happy shopping!
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