The Ethics of Clothing
Clothing – we all have to buy it. When the purse strings get tight, it’s tempting to head down to one of the large discount clothing stores and pick up at least a few of the essentials there. As consumers, we all know that how we spend our money has a major impact on both the environment and the living standards of the people employed to produce the goods. Cheap clothing sold in large quantities generally means it has been made using exploitative labour, predominantly that of women, from countries like Bangladesh, India, China, the Philippines and Mexico.
But that is not all. Conventionally grown cotton requires large amounts of insecticides and synthetic fertilisers, often with devastating impacts on both workers and the environment. Read about it here
To add to this, the synthetic dyes used in mainstream clothing are highly toxic. Waste water from dyeing is often released directly into rivers, and there are significant health risks to people who work with these dyes. See: Read about it here
Because of the rise of cheap, mass-produced clothing from sweat shop labour, clothes have become more disposable. Because they are of lower quality, we buy and discard clothes at an alarming rate, creating landfill problems, and promoting the vicious cycle of ever-increasing consumption and waste.
Well, the great news is that it’s now much easier to buy ethically produced garments – and that means sustainably produced fabric, put together using fairly paid labour – from a growing number of businesses. A non-comprehensive list of such Australian companies includes 3 Fish, Organic Embrace, Cornflower Blue, Eco Diva, PurePod, Etiko and Sosume Clothing.