Earth Day, Extinction Rebellion and Climate Change
Following on from Earth Day last week we discuss the very current, very relevant topic of Climate Change in our latest blog post. We have the important discussion on how sustainable fashion has a positive impact on the earth, about plastic pollution, how recycled yarns as well as organic only products are used to keep our planet clean.
On 22 April, after visiting the Somerset House; Earth Day- at the world's largest environmental event we saw a variety of extraordinary visceral experiences by leading artists discussing the topic of Climate Change.
Amoung them was Justin Brice Guariglia where you are bound to have seen his “Reduce Speed Now” campaign. The campaign supports using language, art and storytelling to promote global action on the climate crisis.
Justin Brice Guariglia visualises critical voices of international activists, poets and philosophers to stop people in their tracks and make them notice this ecological crisis. Greta Thunberg is included as one of the activists, the 16 year old has made headlines from protesting and rallying students across the world to bring attention to the political inaction surrounding climate change.
We live in a strange world, where children must sacrifice their education in order to protest against the destruction of their future.” To watch her full speech click here.
Justin Brice Guariglia introductory speech at the installation was incredibly inspiring and thought provoking.
We are currently witnessing the “greatest challenge humanity has ever faced, governments are short term focused and tied to corporate motivations leaving us the people struggling to find a way out of this mess”.
Justin goes on to explain that this leaves us no option but to increase the dialogue on a personal and visual level. We need to have a human not corporate agenda and continue to get in front of legal systems to in act change, just like Extinction Rebellion over the past week. Art functions are an effective tool to open our minds to new possibilities and new perspectives. Artists like Justin are becoming indispensable in arguing our need for change for our natural world.
Climate change is so crucial, it is going to be years before we understand it on a human level. We need to understand our blind spots if we are going to survive as a species there are holes in our understanding.
He goes onto to explain after researching with Nasa on their earth science mission in Greenland that 100 million Olympic size swimming pools equals the amount of ice lost every year in Greenland alone which is going into the ocean and melting. The rapidly thinning sea ice in Eastern Greenland is at an all-time low. This is a clear testament and sums up our understanding today of the natural world and our ecological footprint.
He used solar panelled notice boards similar to that you would see on the edge of a motorway which are rich in metaphors and is the perfect vehicle for the message. It warns us on what’s down the road ahead and we associate them with the voice of authority, its all get people thinking ecologically.
Some of the boards include the messages below;
“We are the Asteroid”
“Warning Hurricane Human”
“Goodbye Artic Ice”
“Global Warming at Work”
Ironically 100 metres down the road from this presentation was Waterloo Bridge where 1000s from Extinction Rebellion have been gathered throughout the week saying they will not move until the government listens. Our founder Esther Knight went as part of the protest.
“Yes the planet got destroyed but for a beautiful moment in time we created a lot of value for shareholders”. Marc Benioff
A couple of weeks later for Fashion Revolution Week we visited the Know the Origin pop up event on the environment – “The Nature of Fashion” with speakers including Lottie Hanson-Lowe from Hubbub and Steve Trent from Environmental Justice Foundation.
Steve was explaining about cotton production and its impact on the environment – “Everyone here will be wearing something made of cotton, even if its just a pair of socks”. Cotton production accounts for 2.3% of arable land coverage, 24% of pesticides & 11% insecticides. Water is a finite resource and cotton has such a huge impact on our water supply – it takes about 22,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of cotton – that’s a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. That amount of water is enough drinking water to keep an adult going for 25 years. The Aral sea is named by the UN as the greatest environmental disasters of the 20thcentury, the entire sea dried up due to cotton production leaving behind toxic unfertile soil, starving the local people and making them very ill. This is all in the name of fashion!
Steve went onto to explain that’s not even considering the chemicals, if we did a chemical analysis of your blood we will have a number of different toxic chemicals in our bodies that have come in part from clothing.
There is however positives, the recent youth strikes are highly inspiring to bring about change, the more knowledge we have on the environmental crisis the better chance we have at preventing it and changing the fashion industry.
Buying items made from organic cotton protects waters supplies, stops the use of poisoning textiles, its well tracked and isn’t associated to the human rights abuses in other forms of textiles.
All of this calls for greater transparency within the fashion industry, we need to open up in our dialogue with people. If you are buying a top or dress for £7 from ASOS costs have been cut, we need to be understanding why and who have paid the price for these kind of items. It is a fact that we are consuming too much, we need to Buy Less, we are not entitled to have as much as we do – lets buy wiser with more accountability.
Fashion should be about celebrating who you are – being a positive influence. Instead we have lost the value in products, it is always a race to the bottom and companies are just thinking about price not matter what the costs.
Another environmental issue in regards to fashion is Micro fibres Lottie explains. 1/3 of plastic pollution in the ocean is made up from textile fibres. Every time you wash clothes bits come off and there isn’t enough research out there at the moment to fully understand the impact these micro fibres are having on our health. Plastic from synthetic clothing can be found in our food and water – the way we care for our clothes has a big impact on this form of pollution.
Wash your clothes less and get a micro fibre bag that protects your clothing. The micro fibres that do break are caught by the mesh and do not make their way into the marine ecosystem.
Environmental Justice Foundation organises undercover investigations on different environmental crisis’. Many people think that you either have an environmental issue or you have a human rights issue – that is not the case they are completely connected. Many cases when you see an environmental crisis happen, people are incrementally connected.
If you look at climate change nowhere has our future been as clearly written as it has today – nowhere can you see a bigger environmental crisis. Climate change is seen as something over there and in the future – it is here and now.
Steve provided us with the example of a Hurricane in Bangladesh; “they stopped counting the dead when it hit 138,000 people. Can you imagine if that had been in London, Berlin or Rome? What reaction it would have inspired? It would have been transformative in our line of sight of climate change but because it is over there it is ignored”.
Collaboration is important to make fashion more sustainable, one company does not have the influence to change the issues in our industry. We all need to collaborated to share knowledge and find solutions to our challenges.
Fashion is actually a really distinctive part of all of our lives. Each of us each day make a decision about what we're going to wear, both what it looks like and what we do with it. And on another level, it is a really important industry. So from a government and business perspective, it has a huge contribution to economies around the world. In fact, up to $3 trillion worth of fashion is circulated around the world each year.
And this employs 50 million people, mainly women, across different parts of the world from the production, the design, the selling, and the servicing of clothes. So it has a huge infrastructure. But more crucially than that, every item in our wardrobes comes directly from nature. We don't always think about this, but every element of each of our garments comes through the processes that come out of the ground. And they're mediated by our own ideas, by human ingenuity, through the skills in our hands, to the ideas in our minds. So fashion actually is a way of connecting us back to where we come from-- where we live. And it's also something that we can each potentially affect.
We have listed below all the activities we are involved in to raise awareness for climate change and to prevent this ecological crisis. At Fabric For Freedom we are a plastic free organisation, we do not use any materials or trims that contain plastic and all our packaging is made from recycled paper. Our postal bags are bio-degradable and are made from recycled plastic and are recyclable also.
We try to use some fabrics in our collection that are recycled so that we can prevent more textiles going to Landfill. We source these recycled textiles from a supplier in London.
The second part of our collection uses organic and plant based fabrics, we try to use fabrications that have limited environmental impact – we hope to grow our plant based collection this year. Most of our products are vegan friendly.
Our marketing activities are used to promote a more environmental way of living, using examples to educate the consumer about wastage, over consumption, landfill and chemicals within our clothing.
This year we are going to start stocking some beauty and lifestyle products that are all made from natural ingredients with no chemicals. Additionally, we are working on a upcycled range – taking garments and reinventing them to again further prevent wastage.
We use GOTS certified cotton and request certificates so that we can see suppliers have been investigated. We use buttons sourced from the rainforest that are made from a special nut to avoid de-forestation and the proceeds go to the local tribes and pay them a fair living wage.
We use recycled trims from a rug company in London, the rug offcuts are wastage and we salvage them and use them in pieces. We use recycled glass buttons.
Some of our garments are wear two ways – encouraging a longer lasting relationship with our clothing and educating the customer on over consumption and products are all made in the UK guaranteeing fair factories with good working conditions, health and safety standards, and fair pay.