In the second half of our tips on greening your wardrobe - to help you clean up your clothing inspired by our Detox campaign - we look at saying no to child labour, questioning distressed denim, avoiding greenwash, spring cleaning, speaking out and spreading the word.
Read part one >>
8) Say no to child labour and sweatshops and yes to fair prices
Fairtrade products are booming. In addition to coffee, tea, bananas and chocolate, there are now Fairtrade clothes. Fairtrade helps mainly the people who produce the goods. In poorer countries fair trade'guarantees decent working conditions, such as no use of child labour, and payment of a living wage.
For example, rather than sell their harvest at dumping prices on the world market, cotton farmers get 36 cents per kilo of cotton and 41 cents per kilo for organic cotton, or about 40 to 70 per cent more than before. A Fairtrade shirt costs around three euros more. Head to fairtrade.net to find your local Fairtrade website and provide advice on where to buy products.
For the latest news on which companies are being linked to sweatshop use or child labour check out cleanclothes.org and laborrights.org.
9) Question distressed denim
Distressed denim has become a popular fashion trend in recent years, but did you know that factories often use chemical treatments to get that faded effect?
And chemical use isn’t the only issue - killerjeans.org explains how the practice of distressing denim through sandblasting is causing the fatal lung disease silicosis in factory workers.
Not all denim is distressed via sandblasting or applying chemicals, but you’d need to be a technical expert to tell which treatment method has been used on a specific garment, so the best policy is to ask. Or better still, buy secondhand denim that has been naturally distressed through use!
10) Green wash
A lot of the environmental impact of clothes actually comes from washing them. Minimise this by making sure you wash a full load. Also, most of the electricity used in washing comes from heating the machine, so turn it down. Normally soiled laundry will wash well at 30 degrees.
11) Spring clean your wardrobe
If there’s anything in your wardrobe you’re not using then liberate it! Pass it on to a friend, donate it to charity, put it on Freecycle or eBay or even organise a clothing exchange party.
12) Take back
Manufacturers such as Patagonia offer to take back worn-out old clothes. Why not ask your favourite brand if they will follow suit?
13) Contact brands
Visit your favourite brand’s website and see if they’ve implemented any environmental policies, especially for chemical management. If not - or if their policies aren’t good enough - let them know that you love their clothes but want them to improve.
14) Spread the word
Tell your friends about the pollution problems - spreading awareness of this issue helps us push for a toxics-free future for the textile industry.