Monday, 18 July 2011

Sustainable Style: Introduction

Sweatshop in late 19th century/ early 20th century New York City

Did you know that it takes approximately 1/3 of a pound of pesticides to grow enough cotton for one t-shirt? Or that an average American throws away about 68 pounds of textiles every year? Did you know that garment workers for many American companies in China earn somewhere around 40 cents per hour? Did you know that 2/3 of the carbon footprint of any manufactured piece of clothing can be traced to the process it goes through after it leaves the factory?

I've sort of known about a lot of this stuff. I've read similar figures in all kinds of sources over the years. Every once in a while I've supposedly made decisions to never, ever buy anything from fast and cheap fashion manufacturers. I've made pledges to never buy anything new again. And then I might have seen a great pair of jeans online, or a dress in a store window, and all of the information, all of my promises have gone out of the window.

I've spent a lot of my money on questionably-manufactured clothes. I've turned a blind eye on human rights violations, 68-hour work weeks, and environmentally detrimental manufacturing processes too many times. No more excuses; it's time I give a real chance to sustainable style. This week I'm starting up a series of posts on sustainable style. I hope that as many of you as possible will join me in discussing issues like sweatshops, fast fashion, style and its environmental consequences, and the price of clothes.

Image borrowed from here

7 comments:

Eyeliah said...

this will be a good week! I am in need of new shoes, I have none that are good for the Vancouver rain anymore, but I can't find a decent pair at a thrift shop and I don't buy new anymore.... it is a challenge.

Terri said...

I look forward to this series. Yes, I knew the facts in this initial post...and it helps me to not be tempted to shop any retail. But I am forever learning new bits and pieces about these sustainability issues.

Years ago I took my daughters to an old textile mill in Missouri. I tried to describe to them that children, younger than they were at that time, once worked 14 hour days in an un-airconditioned environment. Their eyes grew wide.

Charlotte Holmes said...

My grandfather worked in a cotton mill in Georgia for nearly 20 years, before dying of white-lung disease. My aunt went to work at the same mill when she was 14 years old & worked there until her retirement. It was hard, ill-paid, and often hazardous work. I'm looking forward to your posts!

Sixty-eight pounds of textiles thrown out each year? I'm amazed. Today I hesitated to throw out a grungy old potholder, wondering if there was some other use for it.

jesse.anne.o said...

I feel like I know a lot of the facts but I would love it if I learned something new and would also love the reinforcement! Thank you for doing the series!

RK said...

I admire your resolution - I haven't bought anything new since May, and I hope to keep it that way as much as I can. Looking forward to reading about your journey!

Carolyn said...

This is something I've felt strongly about for years! I'm looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on this subject...
Actually I know personally of a disgraceful sweatshop operation; no air-conditioning, no meal breaks, hot-iron and sewing machine injuries are very common and nearly always go untreated, 14 hour days... of course since this is happening in my own sewing room and are pretty much self-inflicted I can't really complain...

deb said...

I just started a similar project. My life is totally changed by the recent atrocities in Bangladesh. I would love to connect with you. I have been getting a lot of criticism for my actions. Sometimes it is really lonely when you take a stand.

bonfireforhumanity.blogspot.com