I’m going to kick off Eco Week with a sort of manifesto sent to me by a person who knows what they are talking about on condition of anonymity.
It’s about clothes and it’s interesting and they have this to say:
“I think we all know by this point that fast fashion is a complete environmental omnishambles. But if we all stopped buying it, the millions of young women around the world who currently make it for us are going to lose their toehold on economic independence. Likely many will end up back in their home villages, unemployed, married off and mothers before their twenties. Which would make us pretty shit feminists. On top of which, the world population will then rise massively, and we’ll all be screwed environmentally anyway.
It’s complicated. But if we accept that we are all complicit in this, this monster of globalised exploitation we have created, then we also accept that we can actually do something about it.
Here are some very easy ways to start:
1. Leave your clothes hangers at the till. Plastic clothes hangers are pretty much only made by two companies globally. The type of plastic they are made from means most councils cannot recycle them, however both these companies have massive industrial recycling schemes. So as long as you leave the hanger behind it will be reused or recycled. Some retailers tried having take back schemes, but it turned out people just shoved any old crap in the collection boxes in store, because people are jerks. So unless you really really need another clothes hanger, please just leave it behind in store.
2. Be a vocal consumer. I have a very limited budget where I work to do cool things like work with disadvantaged women in Bangladesh or support NGO projects to remove plastic from the sea. If our customers started sounding off a bit more at AGMS and writing to our CEO etc, then there would be a bit more traction for me to get a bigger budget to do more. In the absence of David Attenborough narrating a documentary about every important issue, it would be nice if customers were asking for this stuff. Just please not in a dramatic, public way at ten to four on a Friday afternoon when I just want ten G&Ts and a lie down.
3. Don’t be tight. It costs more to source recycled polyester, or certified sustainable viscose. We can’t do it if you won’t buy it. Historically when retailers have done ranges such as Fair Trade cotton they’ve just tanked. I appreciate that some people are fighting just to make it through to the next pay day, but for the rest of us I get really narked when people won’t pay a couple of quid more for something that might help ensure their children and grandchildren won’t have to live in a post climate change world of fiery doom.
4. For the love of god do a service wash on your washing machine. If you look at the life cycle of a garment, the “consumer use” bit is a massive, massive part of the total energy use. One of the easiest ways to make it more efficient is to just do a service wash on your machine every month (cheapest way just run it empty on a high temp with white vinegar). This keeps the machine running efficiently so it uses less energy. And obviously yes it’s boring but tumble drying is the devil’s work, it uses loads of energy, damages clothes so they don’t last as long and apparently may also burn your house down.”
Informative AND amusing (my favourite bit was about people being jerks). Please, of course, share anything you want to add to this below. More later or tomorrow or as I have it. Putting these Eco Week things together has been weirdly time-consuming and there was an overwhelming response that all had to be read and sorted. It’s at times like this that I wish anyone wanted to do work experience with me. Or that I had gone on a fundraising round and had an office and an assistant.
THANK YOU to everyone who commented or emailed and my most huge and fulsome apologies if you have not been replied to promptly (or at all). I read them all and we are go this week.
There is still plenty of time to email me with your suggestions for interesting companies or best practices – firstname.lastname@example.org. The suggestions are broadly falling into a few categories: Heath, Beauty, Food, Clothes, Further Reading (by which I mean anything from documentaries and podcasts to Eco-devoted Instagram accounts).