Fashion Without Victims?

Green Fashion: A New Trend to watch
The BBC has launched a web site dedicated to 'Ethical Fashion'. According to TrendHunter Magazine:

The online magazine seeks to address issues many fashion-conscious and environmentally-responsible people constantly grapple with such as the damage sustained by the environment due to irresponsible and unethical practices on the part of the fashion industry, sustainability, human and animal rights, fair trade practices, etc.

It looks interesting (aside from the rather pointless Flash ditty on the home page - which fails as apiece of information architecture). But on the positive the site has a number of features I found fascinating.

The A-Z of Ethical fashion terms is illuminating. I hadn't heard of the terms Swishing/Swapping/Shwopping – which are parties or websites where people exchange clothes they no longer wear. Obviously buying less stuff and moving stuff you no longer use to someone who will is a good idea. (I am a big fan of passing books on - they serve no purpose sitting on a shelf - especially if it unlikely that I will need to refer back to them).

Also on the list is Bamboo. I didn't know it could be converted to fabrics and yarns. However there is this footnote:

…the process of turning bamboo into yarn and cloth can involve chemicals and may use a lot of water – some factories are better than others. To make sure the bamboo has been sourced environmentally, it’s a good idea to ask where the raw bamboo comes from and how it’s processed.

…which highlights an obvious problem. Sometimes what seems right can be wrong. Creating demand for products that are actually worse than the one they replace is a negative solution. The bio-fuel frenzy is an example of this. Food prices are rising as farmers convert their crops to bio-fuel producing plants which not only places pressure on world commodity prices of staple foods like grains but is also likely to have dire environmental consequences - some bio fuels produce more Nitrogen than fossil fuels produce Carbon Dioxide - Nitrogen is more dangerous to the environment.

The videos on the site are interesting. Try Green is the new black. Of course some of the logic is troubling. For example if I refuse to buy cheap cotton T-Shirts (the presenter cites '3 for a fiver') and seek out the fair trade logo then what are the consequences? The people who are paid low wages - whether it is 5 pence an hour or not - won't be paid anything. The people who sell the Fair Trade or organic cotton shirts will exploit me instead by inflating the rice of the garment, applying a premium to salve my liberal conscience. The consequence of that is that I have less cash to spend on health and education for my children.

All things considered, the site is worth a look. It's nice to find a BBC site that allows non UK residents to view the video material.


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