When you dressed this morning, did you spare a thought for how your clothes came into the world? Do you know what country they were made in, from what type of material or who stitched them together?
Most likely not – too busy rushing breakfast, timelines, meetings, commitments, social media, what’s for dinner, first-world problems, shopping for more, weekend planning …
The disconnection between ourselves and our clothing has grown in direct proportion to the amount of affordable, ever-changing garments on offer through global supply chains. The majority is sewn in third-world factories then presented in all sizes and shapes in a store near you.
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Jane Milburn in eco-dyed t-shirt dress. Photo by Darcy Milburn at South Mossman River in north Queensland
Clothing is as essential as food for our health and wellbeing because clothes do for us on the outside what food does inside – they nourish, warm, and engage body and soul. What we choose to wear impacts how we feel and how we present to the world.
As conscious eaters are now aware of sourcing fresh whole food and returning to the kitchen – conscious dressers are engaging in the process of learning where and how their clothes are made. Our choices have profound influence – yet sometimes we are too busy to think much about them.
Fast, processed food has had a dramatic impact on health across the population in recent decades and similarly the transformational shift to fast, manufactured clothing is having impacts we are only now coming to understand.
Without doubt there are thousands of wonderful designers and billions of beautiful clothes available for purchase through the trillion dollar global garment industry. Yet this industry flourishes through the hard work of garment workers in developing countries who may, or may not, be paid appropriately for their efforts. Read about the global garment industry here from Clean Clothes Campaign.
Meanwhile in Australia and other developed nations, two generations have largely missed the opportunity to learn to sew and 70% of millennials don’t even know how to sew on a button. Continue Reading →
Never at any time in our history have there been so many clothes in the world, and another 69.7m tonnes added every year. Some clothing is now so cheap it is considered disposable. The fact we don’t make time to value or care for clothes like we did in past generations is leading to textile waste on a massive scale, with millions of tonnes of clothing going prematurely to landfill.
The fastest-growing household waste in Australia is clothing, according to a Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia which said Australians sent $500 million of fashion clothing to the tip in 2013. It suggested this waste could be reduced if we removed spills quickly using baby wipes or sloshing with water to stop stains setting. And it said if we are like other Western countries, we only recycle 18 per cent of clothing compared to 55 per cent of paper and 63 per cent of metal. Continue Reading →
Most of us are materialistic by nature. We like stuff that is useful, pretty, holds memories, provides comfort, brings status, or appeals in some other way.
It is the ability to imagine how new things might change our lives that drives us to acquire them. New Scientist magazine’s March 29 feature The Meaning of Stuff described this as transformation expectation, imagining how it may enhance and somehow make things better.
But being more mindful about consumption – of food, energy, clothing, technology, sweet stuff – leads to better outcomes for ourselves and the planet. For example, use of apparel fibre has increased by 80 percent in the past two decades, three times the rate of population growth, according to the table below from a 2013 FAO World Apparel Fibre Consumption Survey. The report is written from a consumption perspective on recession impacts but can be interpreted as an overall warning because per capita consumption between 1992 and 2010 ballooned from 7kgs up to 11kgs of fibre per person per year. This is unsustainable. Continue Reading →