No, this is not about Punk Safety Pins or Grunge Flannel. It’s about your t-shirt and your jeans. It’s about your silk blouse and your Nike running shoes. Who made your clothes? Do you know?
Increasingly we are advised to be more aware of where our food comes from – cage-free hens give us ethical eggs; grass-fed, pasture-raised cows give us tastier, healthier beef.
But what about your clothes? You many know from the label that your shirt was “Made in China … Bangladesh … Vietnam … India…” So far, so good. And maybe that it was made of 100% … 50% … 20% …cotton … wool … polyester … viscose… Wait. What? What the heck is “viscose”? See what I mean? In other words, it’s like knowing about where your food comes from. You know that your eggs come from chickens, but are they cage-free hens…? Do you care? If you do, then you should care about where your clothes come from as well. You know where India is, but you don’t know if the cotton used is organic or if it is full of pesticides. You may even know – or guess – that the reason your t-shirt in made in Laos or Bangladesh is because companies can pay their workers less than in the U.S., or even, increasingly, China.
But: did you know that the fashion industry is one of the most lucrative industries in the world? Did you know that a garment that is “Made in China” may have started with cotton grown on a Texas farm? Did you know that cotton can be one of the most environmentally unfriendly fabrics due to pesticide use and the huge amount of water used in processing it?
Yes, unfortunately, your choices in the apparel department of a store are at least as important as your choices at the grocery store. Not convinced? Consider what the organizaton, Fashion Revolution, says about the sociological impact of clothing:
Fashion is our chosen skin. On an individual level it represents how we feel about ourselves and what we want to tell the world about who we are. (So, in one sense we could be talking about the Punk safety pin or the Grunge flannel!) On a community level, it tells a story about our history, culture and social customs.
How could the “skin” on our bodies not be just as important as what we put inside them?
It will not take much to begin a revolution. All that is needed is this: tomorrow morning when you are getting dressed, give a thought to the factory worker in Bangladesh or Los Angeles who cut or sewed your t-shirt. OR consider the amount of water that was used to grow and process the cotton. That’s all. Be aware. Want to go further? Consider going to your local consignment store for your next pair of jeans. They will be already soft and broken in and will not shrink when you wash them! More? Find out about what you can do to promote the growing hemp for fiber in the U.S. We get all of our hemp fiber from other countries, yet hemp textile production is on the rise. You cannot get high from hemp – unless you are so excited to have a high-yield, eco-friendly fiber source that is easy to grow without pesticides.
Look! You’re a revolutionary! That wasn’t difficult, was it? And you’re in good company – we are all around, and we believe in a better, more just world.