Combining craft and care, our June Main Meeting tackled the subject of ethical clothing.
A lot of us do our bit for recycling, and know about how awful landfill is, but when we think of pollution and waste old garms aren’t the first thing to come to mind. Our first speaker Lyla Patel from Traid gave some startling facts. Aside from the time it takes our old clothes to break down in landfill, they still give off methane and lots of other toxic gases. They still contribute to the pollutants in the air we breathe given off by the incinerators just a few miles north of us in Shoreditch. But natural fibers like cotton and viscose are good right? They still have a huge impact on the environment due to the extraordinary amount of resources such as water used in their production. Having doubled the volume of clothes purchased in the past four years, it’s an alarming predicament. So what do we do about it? Lyla put it to us that we should change our disposable mindset to clothing. Taking the time to choose, personally investing in each find, valuing the memories that come with our clothes rather than the brand. And when you’re done, spread the love by donating for second hand sale so someone else can treasure it.
And on that note a perfectly time traid van swung by to pick up donations from this month’s visitors by the sack full.
When then shifted the focus from the environmental to the human cost of clothes and were joined by Thulsi Narayanasamy War On Want. Taken through the shady supply chains, and lack of accountability it is worrying to consider that it is mainly women affected by the poor working conditions within the industry, but also mainly women consuming these goods. And how are we not more aware of it? Thulsi put it to us that the fashion industry is wonderful at PR and we lap it up. We also heard how normal it was for women in some factories to experienced intimidation when trying to organise a platform for themselves, and was considered part of the package by them. It was eye opening to view the subject not just as a labour rights issue, but as a women’s rights issue through the wider frame of patriarchy.
After a thought (and hopefully action) provoking first half of the meeting, we got skilled up in the long lost skill of darning so that we could go away knowing how to breathe new life into old glad rags.