– guest post by Lore De Backer (TEDxGhent marketing team)
Oh fashion. Only some of us care about it, but literally everybody is involved! Even those who only buy the basics in H&M, C&A and Zara should know that also a T-shirt is the result of fashion design through the years. We can buy clothes at very cheap and competitive prices, but are they reasonable?
Fashion industry is surrounded by beauty, glamour and luxury. We link the industry with catwalks and celebrities all the time. All this glitter has to cover up the following very important fact: behind our daily outfit goes a hidden world of poverty and environmental pollution.
Isn’t it time for a sustainable fashion revolution?
As a fashion designer, Bruno Pieters is very well aware of the impact of the fashion industry. During a sabbatical year, travelling in Southern India, he experienced the other side, far away from the glamour and the catwalks. He founded the company “Honest by”, that designs and sells fashion but also shares the full cost breakdown of its products. Come and discover his entire story at TEDxGhent on the 22th of June 2013!
With an eye on 2015, we wonder which Millennium Goals are threatened by how fashion industry mainly works today. Based on several aspects of the fashion and clothes supply chain, we conclude that following goals will definitely not be reached by 2015.
- Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
The wage paid to Asian, African and Eastern European labourers is often no more than 0,5 to 5% of the retail price. Those ridiculously low wages are even 3 to 4 times too little to live on, while labourers work up to 90 hours a week. Providing food and shelter for a family becomes very difficult. Goal one will not be achieved thanks to fashion industry!
- Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
As the textile workers with their low wages barely have enough money to provide their families with food and shelter, how could they ever pay decent education for their children? Oh, did I mention: child labour? In a lot of clothing producing countries such as India, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan, children are put to work on cotton plantations, in spinning mills and tanneries. Fashion industry teaches us one thing: how not to handle children!
- Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
At last I would like to mention the huge negative impact of fashion consumption on the environment and thus goal seven of the Millennium Goals. One quarter of all pesticides in agriculture worldwide is used for growing cotton, which takes place in e.g. India and Mali. Some facts and figures:
- One T-shirt consumes approximately 150 grams of pesticides.
- On top: an average of 8000 liters of water is used to cultivate one kilo of cotton! While 20% of all citizens in the world have no access to clean drinking water..
- The production of a pair of jeans is accompanied by approximately ten kilos of CO2 emissions.
We’re pretty curious about Bruno Pieters’ talk. Will ‘Honest By’ succeed in setting the tone for a more transparent and sustainable fashion industry?