Every now and again a topic is put in front of you that really makes you think. This week was exactly that as I was asked to join a podium panel discussion with 3 others in Lucerne, Switzerland to discuss the definition of solidarity fashion consumption as a part of a Public Eye initiative to raise awareness on the topic.
Based on the predictions of scientists, if the fashion industry continues in it’s current tracks it will face major problems as early as 2050. It is becoming emphatically clear that some of the resources needed to create fashion are finite. Most critical of which being fresh water. According to the WWF it takes 20’000 litres of water to produce 1 pair of jeans and one t-shirt.
A McKinsey & Company report predicts water supply to outstrip demand by 40% in 2030 – OMG that is only 12 years from now!
This is just where the whole discussion of sustainability begins. But what is solidarity fashion consumption?
What is Solidarity Fashion Consumption?
RIPESS, the international network for the social and solidarity economy defines solidarity fashion consumption as being:
“The social and solidarity economy is a movement that aims to change the current social and economic system. Solidarity economic principles serve as the new basis – principles based on solidary exchange that connects individual needs with those of the community.”
Put simply it means to create decent living conditions for everyone around the world. This alone is a gigantic mission. In reality most of us are far to far removed to really be able to judge whether what we buy makes a positive impact to everyone around the world?
An an example a recent study on hair products showed biodegradable hair products using animal testing and those not using animal testing to not be biodegradable. Which product is better?
Having stated I don’t wear real fur I was then asked whether animals were more important to me than humans. Of course not, but there is a one to one relationship between the death of an animal and wearing fur. The discussion then goes further. If so concerned about an animal dying for fur why would I still be eating meat?
Solidarity of fashion made simple
To be honest at the beginning of the discussion I really felt I was complying with the solidarity of fashion as I was so proud to be wearing and supporting a local Zurich designer – Paradis des Innocents.
Quite obviously there is a lot more behind the topic than that.
We often concern ourselves with correct labour rates. However environmental disruption such as extreme weather conditions, in the geographical locations where cheap labour is available, is also a high risk factor.
According to the organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), four out of five countries most affected by rising sea levels are fashion’s biggest manufacturing hubs: China, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh.
Transportation also faces an uncertain future as oil fields become more difficult to access.
2008 saw a 45% increase in oil prices from the months January to July – showing just how volatile and sensitive oil prices are to short-term market imbalances.
This only touches the surface of potential problems the fashion industry is set to face.
The good News
The good news is that a number of leading fashion businesses are initiating sustainability changes. However as consumers we too have the responsibility to start consciously thinking about the overall impact of our consumption habits.
For me the definition of Soldarity Fashion Consumption is to move towards a much more conscious pattern of consumption. Not to try and change everything at once but to move forward by taking small REAL steps towards a better World.
Sustainable Shopping Trips
As a small move towards increased solidarity fashion consumption FunkyForty will be hosting small shopping trips with maximum 5 participants.
Each participant is to bring along a piece of clothing which they like. Using this as a base to create a totally new look for the new season.
The aim is to halve the normal consumption. At the same time maintaining a sense of Fashion and trendiness.
It’s also a chance to meet my dear readers in person! We have fun adventures planned with apero, discounts, new brand discoveries and even short trips through Switzerland.
To register please send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to Public Eye for raising awareness on this very important issue – the more awareness gained the more opportunity for real change!
Rebekka Sommerhalder – owner of fair trade clothing store Glore in Luzern
Benjamin Steinweg – Public Eye regional group member from Bern
Daniel Wünn – supporter of “effetive altruism“
FunkyForty – Yvonne Aeberhard Stutz
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