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The question to kickstart a fashion revolution: who made your clothes?

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Consumers are being challenged to ask and think about who made their clothes and the impact their purchasing decisions have around the world. The first Fashion Revolution Day, on Thursday April 24, also marks the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. It calls for a more sustainable fashion industry.

The campaign seeks to highlight the many issues within the sector, from exploitation to pollution and demand greater transparency.

Carry Somers, co-founder of the event and pioneer in fairtrade and ethical fashion, said, “Fashion Revolution Day is a global movement. We have created a worldwide platform, which we can all use to ask questions, raise standards and set an industry-wide example of what better looks like. By celebrating best practice, we can change lives.”

The event aims to showcase “realistic sustainable solutions”. In order to do this, the movement is made up of designers, brands, retailers, producers, academics, organisations and charities that know the“pressures and complexities” of the fashion industry.

Each year it will focus on a one of the fashion industry’s most pressing issues, with the first year looking at where our clothes are made and the impact this has. It aims to challenge brands and retailers to take responsibility for the individuals and communities that make their clothing and urges shoppers to put pressure on the industry.

Somers said, “This year we are asking the questions ‘who made your clothes?’ This should be a simple question, but a recent Australian fashion report found that 61% of brands didn’t know where their garments were made and 93% didn’t know where the raw materials come from.

“We need to re-establish the broken connection in the supply chain because greater transparency is a prerequisite to improving conditions.”

The lack of knowledge around where clothing for the western world is made means that many in the developing world are left in poverty and at risk. Whilst shoppers know of the poor conditions there is often a disconnect between their values and their purchasing habits. Fashion Revolution Day is designed to change this by rising awareness and making people look at their decisions.

“We don’t know the true cost of the things we buy. The fashion industry supply chain is fractured and producers have become faceless. This is costing lives. All over the world, people are suffering and our environment is at risk as a result of the fashion supply chain,” Somers explained.

War on Want, a group campaigning against poverty in developing countries argues that garment workers pay a high price to produce cheap clothes for the UK high street. A 2011 report from the group found that a garment factory helper’s wage in Bangladesh starts at just £25 a month, with sewing operators earning £32 a month – far below a living wage.

In addition, 80% of workers work until 8pm or 10pm, after starting at 8am – in excess of the legal limit on working hours. Three-quarters of the female workers the group spoke to also state they have been verbally abused at work while half had been beaten.

In Bangladesh, over three million people, 85% of whom are women, work in the garment industry. The figure demonstrates the size of the problem and shows how whole communities can be affected by poor working conditions.

A separate study, produced by War on Want in 2010, focuses on the garment industry in India, highlighting how widespread the problem is. Indian factories were found to be deeply reliant on the sweatshop model of production, with more than half of workers unable to meet production targets. The report added that in one factory the target was to produce 20 ladies’ shirts every hour.

The group acknowledges that initiatives for improving the rights of overseas workers are being implemented but argues not enough has been done within these mechanisms. The organisation has called on the UK government to regulate the operations of its companies, both in the UK and overseas.

It added, “Retailers cannot continue to pay lip service to corporate social responsibility whilst engaging in buying practices that systematically undermine the principles of decent work.”

Exactly a year ago, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing 1,129 factory workers. The tragedy hit headlines around the world and highlighted the poor working conditions many of those in the developing world face.

The factory manufactured apparel for a number of western brands including Primark, Matalan, Mango, Bonmarche and Walmart, providing a clear link between western shopping habits and the conditions of overseas workers. The tragedy led to intense criticism and offered an opportunity for consumers to voice their concerns, challenge retailers and demand change.

Somers added, “Rana Plaza has opened up a policy window for significant change in the sector. Whilst this is a symptom of the problem, it gives us an opportunity to set a new agenda and overcome the causes.”

In response to the accident a new Accord on Factory and Building Safety in Bangladesh was created, which 38 companies signed. The five-year legally binding agreement means that signatories must maintain minimum safety standards in the textile industry in Bangladesh.

As of October 2013, 1,600 factories were covered by the Accord, representing around a third of the textile industry in the country.

Speaking to Ethical Consumer for its fashion industry guide, Jyrki Raina, general secretary of the international trade union IndusriALL, said, “There’s no doubt, it’s a gamechanger. Never before has such an agreement been signed, with co-operation between so many stakeholders, with such stringent enforceability.”

He added that the first reports are now available online, including photographs of the factories, and that a “leap forward” has been made in terms of transparency as well, with brands now disclosing their suppliers.

Supporting Fashion Revolution Day can raise awareness and bring about further change that is much needed in order to create a sustainable and fair clothing sector.

Somers said, “Our vision is simple – we believe in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, profit and creativity in equal measure, and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that happens.”

Photo: Kristen Taylor via Flickr

Further reading:

Fashion Revolution Day to promote supply chain issues on Rana Plaza anniversary

A manifesto for fashion that truly challenges the status quo

The True Cost: the future of fashion is on sale

We are a long way from achieving stability in supply chains

Raising for Rana: marking the anniversary of Rana Plaza

Environment

How to be More eco-Responsible in 2018

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Shutterstock / By KENG MERRY Paper Art | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/kengmerrymikeymelody

Nowadays, more and more people are talking about being more eco-responsible. There is a constant growth of information regarding the importance of being aware of ecological issues and the methods of using eco-friendly necessities on daily basis.

Have you been considering becoming more eco-responsible after the New Year? If so, here are some useful tips that could help you make the difference in the following year:

1. Energy – produce it, save it

If you’re building a house or planning to expand your living space, think before deciding on the final square footage. Maybe you don’t really need that much space. Unnecessary square footage will force you to spend more building materials, but it will also result in having to use extra heating, air-conditioning, and electricity in it.

It’s even better if you seek professional help to reduce energy consumption. An energy audit can provide you some great piece of advice on how to save on your energy bills.

While buying appliances such as a refrigerator or a dishwasher, make sure they have “Energy Star” label on, as it means they are energy-efficient.

energy efficient

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By My Life Graphic

Regarding the production of energy, you can power your home with renewable energy. The most common way is to install rooftop solar panels. They can be used for producing electricity, as well as heat for the house. If powering the whole home is a big step for you, try with solar oven then – they trap the sunlight in order to heat food! Solar air conditioning is another interesting thing to try out – instead of providing you with heat, it cools your house!

2. Don’t be just another tourist

Think about the environment, as well your own enjoyment – try not to travel too far, as most forms of transport contribute to the climate change. Choose the most environmentally friendly means of transport that you can, as well as environmentally friendly accommodation. If you can go to a destination that is being recommended as an eco-travel destination – even better! Interesting countries such as Zambia, Vietnam or Nicaragua are among these destinations that are famous for its sustainability efforts.

3. Let your beauty be also eco-friendly

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Shutterstock / By Khakimullin Aleksandr

We all want to look beautiful. Unfortunately, sometimes (or very often) it comes with a price. Cruelty-free cosmetics are making its way on the world market but be careful with the labels – just because it says a product hasn’t been tested on animals, it doesn’t  mean that some of the product’s ingredients haven’t been tested on some poor animal.

To be sure which companies definitely stay away from the cruel testing on animals, check PETA Bunny list of cosmetic companies just to make sure which ones are truly and completely cruelty-free.

It’s also important if a brand uses toxic ingredients. Brands such as Tata Harper Skincare or Dr Bronner’s use only organic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, as well as being cruelty-free. Of course, this list is longer, so you’ll have to do some online research.

4. Know thy recycling

People often make mistakes while wanting to do something good for the environment. For example, plastic grocery bags, take-out containers, paper coffee cups and shredded paper cannot be recycled in your curb for many reasons, so don’t throw them into recycling bins. The same applies to pizza boxes, household glass, ceramics, and pottery – whether they are contaminated by grease or difficult to recycle, they just can’t go through the usual recycling process.

People usually forget to do is to rinse plastic and metal containers – they always have some residue, so be thorough. Also, bottle caps are allowed, too, so don’t separate them from the bottles. However, yard waste isn’t recyclable, so any yard waste or junk you are unsure of – just contact rubbish removal services instead of piling it up in public containers or in your own yard.

5. Fashion can be both eco-friendly and cool

Believe it or not, there are actually places where you can buy clothes that are eco-friendly, sustainable, as well as ethical. And they look cool, too! Companies like Everlane are very transparent about where their clothes are manufactured and how the price is set. PACT is another great company that uses non-GMO, organic cotton and non-toxic dyes for their clothing, while simultaneously using renewable energy factories. Soko is a company that uses natural and recycled materials in making their clothes and jewelry.

All in all

The truth is – being eco-responsible can be done in many ways. There are tons of small things we could change when it comes to our habits that would make a positive influence on the environment. The point is to start doing research on things that can be done by every person and it can start with the only thing that person has the control of – their own household.

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Energy

Top 5 Changes You can Make in Your Life to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love? - Image from Shutterstock - https://www.shutterstock.com/g/thodonal88

In a world, where war rages and global warming threatens our very existence, the inhabitants of earth need to be extra vigilant in their efforts to go green. This includes reducing your carbon footprint on the earth and leading a more sustainable life.

Many homeowners feel perplexed by all of the options available to reduce their carbon footprint. They may even feel (falsely) that making their household more green will fail to make that much of a difference in the fight to save our planet.

Even a single home going green has a massive impact on the environment. We can win this battle on home at a time. If you’re interested in accepting the challenge of making your household a green home, read on below for a few of the top changes you can make in your life to reduce your carbon footprint. We all stand to benefit from making the earth safer for future generations – and your wallet won’t complain when you start to see the savings in annual energy costs.

Switch From Dirty Energy to Clean Solar

The ION Solar reviews tell it all–solar is the best way to go. Whether your goal is to slash your energy bills, or to reduce your carbon footprint, the sun is a fantastic source of renewable energy.

It’s important to get past the hype from solar installers. Instead, listen to the plethora of impartial customer reviews that mention everything from a $20 energy bill, to the incredible feeling of knowing that you are doing your part by going green and minimizing harmful emissions in to our atmosphere.

The average investment is $15,000 to $30,000 for installation and purchase of solar panels. Optional battery power packs can help provide consistent power during both night and day. And many government agencies provide federal, state or local grants to help offset upfront investments in clean energy.

Depending on which installed you choose, your household may qualify for low-interest or zero interest loans to cover the up-front cost of your installation. And the loan payments are usually less than your current monthly power bill.

It really is a win-win, as home buyers are looking for homes that feature this technology – meaning solar power installation improves the resale value of your property.

Home Modifications

And there are a number of additional home modifications that can help improve the energy efficiency of your home. A programmable thermostat can better manage energy consumption from home cooling and heating systems while you’re away from home. And weather stripping your doors can help keep cool air in during the summer, and warm air in during the winter.

Of course, energy conservation starts at home. And this includes setting a powerful example for your kids. Teach your children how to close windows, strategically keep doors open or closed based on airflow, and encourage them to leave the thermostat alone – opting for adding or removing layers of clothing instead.

Unplug Appliances and Shut Off Electronics

Unplugging your appliances when they aren’t in use, such as the toaster and the coffee maker, has more of an impact than you might think. Set your TVs and stereos on sleep timers, instead of letting them run around the clock. The cumulative impact of wasteful electronic device usage is horrible for our environment – putting unnecessary strain on our electrical grid.

Recycle

One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by recycling. You are already throwing this stuff away anyway, right? It doesn’t take much more effort to just put recyclables in a separate container to be recycled, now does it?

Oh, and did I mention that you can earn money for recycling? Yes! Many cities and towns have recycling centers that will purchase your clean plastic and glass bottles for reuse.

Minimize Your Water Usage

Water is one of the easiest things to forget about when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. Preserve water by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Shorten your shower by a few minutes and turn down the heat on that water heater. You’ll be surprised at how much lower your water bill and your energy bill will be.

Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love?

These are just a few of the top ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint and start living a greener lifestyle. And we aren’t factoring in all of the advantages that we’ll reap from public investments in a smarter energy grid.

From decreasing your water usage, to switching to solar for your home’s energy needs, you will feel good at the end of the day knowing you are doing your part to save the future of this planet for generations to come!

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