Fashion Factfiles #3: The Sumangali System

Hey guys, happy February and welcome to another Fashion Factfiles blogpost!

The Fashion Factfiles is where we expose the brutal realities of the garment industry, the side that the big corporations and big names in fashion work hard to hide behind ‘girl power’ tees and ‘look at us recycling omg we duz care’ campaigns.

This month we’ll be highlighting an issue that many may not be familiar with, but is absolutely horrific and heartbreaking: the Sumangali System.

WARNING: Content regarding sexual abuse and suicide throughout.

Continue reading “Fashion Factfiles #3: The Sumangali System”

LET’S TALK ABOUT ETHICAL FASHION PLS

Ethical fashion: ‘an
approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximises
benefits to people and communities while minimising impact on the environment.’

Ethical Fashion Forum

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(Source: https://airrclothingblog.com/2015/03/06/brand-profile-beaumont-organic-available-at-airr-clothing/)

Wow. Where do I begin?

Actually let me begin with this disclaimer: ANY CRITICISM I MAY MAKE
ABOUT CERTAIN SITUATIONS/ORGANISATIONS/GROUPS OF PEOPLE IS NOT AN ATTACK ON
THESE PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS BUT THE SYSTEM FROM WHICH THEY HAVE DERIVED FROM. 

K lets begin.

So I guess you could say I’ve been in/observing the ethical
fashion scene for about 4/5 years now. During my first year of uni I realised I needed to go beyond
complaining about the oppression of garment workers and start acting, and decided to create a blog called Oh So Ethical. My first
thought was to create an ethical fashion blog where I styled outfits I’d made out of
secondhand clothes, and raved about the latest ethical brands I loved (I
cringely called this ‘Fridays Five Ethical Faves’ ffssssssss). After a while I
stopped, but went back into it when my cousins and I realised we needed
somewhere to share our opinions, ideas,and hopefully inspire others to think
and act ethically- and so we rebranded Oh So Ethical and made it what it is today. 

At the beginning I tended to place a large emphasis on ethical brands that we liked and bought from. ‘Ethical is the new black’ was my favourite slogan. However, as the years have gone on, and with more interaction with activists, friends, random people I’ve met, and having witnessed the ongoing exploitation of garment workers continue year after year, I have become extremely cynical of the effectiveness of ethical brands, particularly ‘ethical fashion’.

Indeed, through learning from others and seriously thinking about
ethical fashion, questioning whether it is an actual means of empowerment for
workers,and if it will ACTUALLY dismantle the system of oppression, I have come to a conclusion:

It’s a resounding NO.

Here’s y.


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(Source: https://fashionindustrybroadcast.com/2017/06/12/sustainable-ethical-fashion-faux-has-never-looked-so-real-or-this-stylish/)

I recently read an amazing article in The Guardian by Martin Lukacs, which really helped me understand the underlying processes behind ethical fashion. To sum it up, we live in a neoliberal society, where we are taught to act and thrive individually. When it
comes to activism, we are taught to focus on how we, as individuals, can change
the situation, and are made to feel personally responsible and guilty for the world’s problems.
Due to the guilt created by this individualism,we feel the need to relieve our
guilt by acting in a way that makes us feel better, and as we are seen as consumers (as opposed to citizens) within neoliberal ideology, our means of creating change is through buying and consumption e.g. buying ethical clothing. 

While these individual actions are undoubtedly important, by placing such a great emphasis on individualistic activism, we are intentionally being steered away from focusing on the real perpetrators at large: CORPORATIONS- who are out here exploiting workers and the environment, and continue to get away with it. In turn, we are made to neglect the fact that we need to be targeting the root causes of exploitation, including the deregulation of state power that allows corporations to get away with murder, and the capitalist system that puts profits over people, encouraging exploitation and greed. By steering our attention away from such issues, corporations can continue making profits and getting away with their bullshit, while we discuss the pros and cons of bamboo leggings. (see more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2017/jul/17/neoliberalism-has-conned-us-into-fighting-climate-change-as-individuals)  

Author of Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion’ Tansy Hoskins provides a similar discourse, adding that we are encouraged to trust in capitalism to make change and better the world; that companies can be made ethical through our consumer actions. However, the contradiction is that corporations have only become stronger and continue to exploit workers/resources, despite their greenwashing and attempts to come across as ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’. More shopping is not going to free workers from this system. By using consumerism as a sole means of empowering workers, we are utilising the very system that has led to the exploitation of workers in the Global South, namely capitalism, without even acknowledging or striving to challenge or dismantle it. (see more: https://oxfordleftreview.com/olr-issue-14/tansy-hoskins-neoliberalism-and-fashion/)

In an insightful article on White Saviour Complex
and Fair Trade, Bani Amor delves into the colonial connotations of attempts to ‘save’ the world via ethical
companies, which are argued to share parallels with the colonial activities of the West going into the Global South and
attempting to civilise the ‘Other’ with its saviour tactics, thus ensuring domination over the GS and its resources, validating supremacy. I’m not saying ethical companies are going to these countries on colonial conquests, but we really do need to understand the historic relevance of colonialism in interactions between the Global North and South such as these. If you go to these countries, get products made, sell them in the name of ‘liberating workers’ while not giving them a say or listening to them, and continue to stay silent on the structural system that has resulted in your existence as an ethical brand, you are falling into dangerous territory.

The article also reviews research on cause-related
marketing, which is basically when corporations and nonprofit charities combine to
promote sales and causes simultaneously. By tying serious social causes such as poverty and exploitation to making profits, this results in the depoliticising and downplaying of such causes, and provides an undignified, extremely
simplified solution to a complex, very dire situation. 

Finally, one pivotal point made is the fact
that coloured women, through this process of ‘saviourism’ are made both “hypervisible, but also invisible- ‘seen but not known’”. Their existence is highlighted, but they are simultaneously being silenced, as workers are spoken over, dehumanised and patronised by brands and movements that are supposed to be
‘empowering’ them. (read more: https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/spend-save)

In general, the ethical fashion movement tends to solely focus on how we can individually change the industry and ‘save’ workers in a way that utilises and continues to prop up the very system that is screwing workers over in the first place, conflicting with its ‘empowering’ rhetoric.


GREAT SO WTF DO I DO NOW THEN MAYISHA.

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(Source: http://www.vqronline.org/reporting-articles/2014/04/ghosts-rana-plaza)

Okay so I know I’ve painted a very dull image of ethical fashion, and I know not all ethical brands are the same, etc etc. However, when the  industry constantly paints ethical fashion as a positive means to an end, neglecting the issues surrounding ethical fashion, alternative viewpoints are needed.

I get a lot of people asking me for advice e.g. about ethical brands, how to be more ethical etc. Ultimately we want our goods to be made by workers who were treated fairly. Personally, I stick to secondhand- it’s cheaper for me and helps reduce waste in landfill. I do like ethical clothing, and knowing where my clothes/jewellery has come from, but if I do buy ethically I will from now on be seeing what that brand is doing to support garment workers and in calling out corporations, so if you’re an ethical brand prepare for a QnA sesh with ur girl.

One thing I would advise is to not simply boycott the high street- this comes from trade unionists and garment worker activists in Bangladesh. They want to produce garments and a source of income, they just don’t want to be tortured in the process (obviously). At the same time, we cannot deny that our excessive consumption is part of the problem, so if you need a new jacket- please just buy your jacket and not a jacket, 5 tops and 6 dresses because they were half price- really think about your purchases. Being a ‘shopoholic’ is a cute insta aesthetic but its seriously impacting the environment and feeding the system of worker exloitation.

Also acknowledge that a lot of people simply cannot afford to buy ethically, and should not be made to feel guilty for going to primark to buy jeans. 

One thing I also really want to highlight, as you would have probably guessed from the blog, is that our activism is not limited to our purchasing. We need to be vocal, we need to be out there demanding change from corporations, calling them out, exposing them etc. Something as little as a tweet, an email, and insta post can go a long way guys. I know its not in fashion to support such movements (pardon the pun) but we really have to keep pushing- we cannot afford to wait for another Rana Plaza for us to take action.

This might piss people off. I’m sorry. But understand that a few years ago I was the same as the very organisations and brands I’m talking about, and it took criticism like this to understand that I needed to rethink my activism if I were to truly create change. Plus, you feel pretty helpless after hearing of a factory fire every other week, another worker protest because factory owners didn’t pay their workers that month, stories of sexual abuse of young females from management, refugees being exploited, masses of workers fainting simultaneously, and NO ONE CARING. Not even the very people who by default should be sharing and raising concerns about these issues. It’s surreal.

We have groups and regular discussions on twitter that enable ethical brands to get together, support each other and discuss how we can promote ethical brands and use them
etc. It’s nice how such elaborate forms of unity can be created surrounding ethical branding but little is done to address the very problems that has led to the reason these ethical brands exist, and how to put an end to worker exploitation. Again, we are
steering towards ‘solutions’ that aren’t actually solutions, but are utilising capitalism
and perpetuating the neoliberal stance that we need to individually create the
change.

BUN THAT SHIT.

Things are going to start changing.

We are not only going to change the world with our individual practices, we are going to change the garment industry
in a way that emphasises our solidarity and support for garment workers,
creating a mass solidarity movement. We are going to call out corporates when we
clock their messy moves and let them know as consumers we don’t f*ck with them unless they treat their workers with dignity.
We are not going to buy our way to change, we are going to collectively DEMAND it.

We have no choice but to.

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(Source: http://thechronicleherald.ca/world/1126316-bangladeshi-garment-workers-protest-on-may-day)

May Exposé: UNIQLO

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Source: http://en.hkctu.org.hk/mainland-china/position-and-analysis/uniqlos-neglect-of-its-suppliers-labour-exploitation

Hey guys! So its now May (how pls) and this month we will be exposing the one and only…..UNIQLOOOOO!

UNIQLO is a clothing company, which was originally founded
in Yamaguchi, Japan in 1949 as a textiles manufacturer. It is now a global
brand with over 1000 stores around the world.[1]

According to their website, their clothes are ‘simple and
essential yet universal, so people can freely combine them with their own
unique styles…’[2]

That’s all good but here’s my fave part; UNIQLO’s reasoning
for why they do what they do:

‘Because if all people can look and feel better every day,
then maybe the world can be a little better too.’ [3]

LOOOOOLL ALLOW IT. (can we end the exposé here bc thats enough to bait out uniqlo tbh- cringey af)

Despite how cringey this sounds however, it looks like it’s
working, as according to Forbes, UNIQLO has a brand value of $7b, with sales of
$11.4bn recorded in May 2016 [4]. In addition, it turns out UNIQLO’s CEO Tadashi Yanai is the richest man in Japan![5].

As with most retailers, UNIQLO’s financial growth has done
little to ensure the wellbeing of those who it depends on to achieve its level
of monetary success. Check out what’s been lowkey going on recently in UNIQLO
supplier factories, and information on how you can get in contact with them and
demand answers!


CHINA

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Source: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1678477/uniqlo-suppliers-put-workers-danger

Last year, War on
Want and a labour organisation in China known as Students and Scholars against
Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) released a report revealing findings from four
of the 70 factories in China that produce for UNIQLO. These factories had been
recognised by UNIQLO as the best-performing factories. Here’s what they found:[6]

EXCESSIVE WORKING HOURS:

Standard working hours per month in these factories is 174
hours, excluding the excessive overtime hours added on top of this. However in
many cases this was largely exceeded. Indeed, in one factory, workers were
working 132 hours of overtime, while in another, workers were working 150 hours
overtime- nearly the same amount as two full time jobs for less than a living
wage.

In some cases, workers were required to work from 7:30am to
midnight, seven days a week. Often they weren’t given leave to take a rest,
working these excessive hours for two months straight. When production was at
its peak, workers had to soak their feet in hot water to relieve the pain and
fatigue after standing for hours.

Due to wages being so low, workers are compelled to work
overtime. This is exacerbated by the fact that workers are not properly paid
for overtime e.g. workers were not paid double on weekends when they were
supposed to.

UNSAFE WORKING ENVIRONMENT

There were many health hazards found in UNIQLO factories,
including:

High temperatures: Factory floors are found to be at very
high temperatures, for example, on the knitting floor of one factory it was 38°C.

No protective gear:  Men
were seen working topless whilst women were found working in sweat-drenched
clothes. In addition, workers in dyeing departments were expected to work with
heavy loads of fabric that weighed up to 600kg with no protective gear, risking
burns or chemical exposure.

Poor ventilation: Poor ventilation and a high density of
cotton fibre in the air increased the risk of byssinosis (a serious
occupational asthma and respiratory irritation). Moreover, as cotton dust is
combustible this can, and has, led to dust explosions.  

Use of toxic chemicals: The use of harmful chemicals in some
factories has led to toxic waste water flooding factory floors, exposing the
workers to these chemicals and also exposing workers to the risk of
electrocution.

Falls from 2-metre high stepladders are found to be common
when working with rolls of yarn- as workers are in a rush to meet targets.

PUNITIVE MEASURES:

Many factories use harsh protocols to ensure workers are
meeting targets and ensure product quality. For example, in one factory,
workers’ wages were deducted if the quality of their work was not up to
standard or if they were found resting outside their 30-minute lunch and dinner
breaks.

Fines were also issued. For example, at another factory, a
worker had his entire wage for the day deducted when he was caught attempting
to iron two sleeves at the same time instead of one at a time. Like for
real!?!?

In another factory, workers were encouraged to report mistakes
made by colleagues. Money would be deducted from the salary of the worker who
made the mistake, and transferred to the salary of the worker who had reported
the mistake. Managers regularly used the factory
broadcasting system to name and shame workers who weren’t hitting their
production targets. At one factory, if workers could not reach the target,
other workers would have to take on the extra work.

NO UNIONS ALLOWED

It is extremely hard for workers to voice their concerns, as
there is no collective, democratic body representing workers in negotiations
with management.  In one factory, the
chairperson of the union was also the manager at the factory, therefore making
it easier to quash any attempts to advocate workers’ rights. At the same
factory, it was heard that when workers organised a strike against low wages in
2009, management hired gangsters to physically assault the workers’ leaders and
suppress the strike. In another case, workers who had led a strike against high
temperatures on the shop floor were dismissed.

In addition, in June 2015, a supplier of UNIQLO called Artigas Clothing shut down without notice and refused compensation for more than 500 workers. After hearing about the possibility of a closure in December 2014, 1000 workers went on strike and demanded that the company pay their pension and overtime payments. The police and factory management shut down the strike and forced workers to return to work, ignoring their demands. Then when June 2015 arrived, workers slept in the factory for weeks to prevent the factory closing without giving the workers their compensation and pension payments, and wished to collectively speak to management. The factory owners rejected, so workers petitioned to the provincial government to resolve the dispute, which led to violent police repression and the detention of 150 workers. One of the female leaders was given indefinite detention in an attempt to force workers to sign a ‘voluntary’ resignation if they wanted her release. 359 workers were pressured into signing through individual visits by management as well. Workers were forcibly removed to work in another factory, and workers wh were part of the collective action were dismissed. UNIQLO did nothing to support the workers.

BRIBERY TO GET AWAY WITH ABUSES

During factory audits, when inspectors come to check out the
workers’ conditions to report back to retailers, workers are often bribed (e.g.
using a cash reward) and compelled to give responses the factory wants them to
give. Considering that workers may be giving false information about their
working conditions, it is worrying to think how much worse conditions may
actually be.

This report caused a stir, and thanks to the ongoing
campaigning of War on Want and SACOM, this January UNIQLO agreed to make its
supply chain public, making it easier to locate where UNIQLO’s clothes are made
and therefore making it easier to track conditions, organise and build a
stronger movement of workers in the area. Then in March, the pressure from
campaigners further led to UNIQLO publishing their list of 146 core factory
suppliers across seven countries in Asia!

INDONESIA

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Source: http://en.hkctu.org.hk/mainland-china/position-and-analysis/uniqlos-neglect-of-its-suppliers-labour-exploitation

 In 2015, a factory making clothes for UNIQLO in
Indonesia closed down, leaving around 4000 workers without a job, with four
months of wages unpaid and compensation amounting to nearly $11m! Workers have
been forced into homelessness and unemployment with no support whatsoever from
UNIQLO. Two years later and workers are still waiting for their wages and
compensation. It’s absolutely ridiculous[7] 

CAMBODIA

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In 2015, Human Rights Now (HRN) visited Cambodia and
found a supplier to UNIQLO, where a male worker revealed the horrific conditions
workers were enduring. He was asked to work overtime almost everyday, including
working 24 consecutive hours. However, he was never paid for overtime hours
after 6 pm. In fact, after 24 hours of overtime shifts, workers were only given
$5. If workers didn’t work overtime, their contracts would not be renewed. Workers
from this and one other factory claimed that they were union members, which was
why management refused to renew their contracts. Many workers were said to pass
out due to high temperatures and a lack of air conditioning. In addition, workers
would not receive safety equipment such as goggles or a mask to cover their mouths
and noses from the detergent odours in the laundry department. However, they wouldn’t
have been able to use the masks anyway, because of the high temperature of the
room, making it difficult to breathe with them on. Workers would be forced to
wear masks and goggles only when inspectors came.[8] 

In addition, the coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’
Democratic Union (CCAWDU) found that in 2014, 6,715 people were dismissed due
to their active participation in labour unions. In late 2015, 50 workers were
dismissed due to their union membership. In December the factory were ordered
by the Arbitration Council to reinstate the 50 workers, but they refused. A
strike began in February 2016, but instead of reinstating the workers, another
55 were terminated, and union members were refused contract renewals.[9]


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Source: http://www.chinalaborwatch.org/newscast/474

Now we know the situation It is our duty to stand in
solidarity with the workers who are tirelessly risking their lives to stand up
to UNIQLO, to work in dignity, and to ensure justice for themselves and their
colleagues. They are out there risking their lives as union members,
protesting, allowing reporters to tell their stories. It is the very least we
can do.

This is a petition to demand UNIQLO to pay the Indonesian workers
who were layoff their wages and compensation: http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1819&ea.campaign.id=65507

CONTACT THEM: Let them know you know what they’re up to, and
that you are concerned.

Twitter: @uniqlo_uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uniqlo.uk/?ref=br_rs

Instagram: @uniqlo_uk

Email: https://www.uniqlo.com/uk/en/contactus

Source: http://en.hkctu.org.hk/mainland-china/position-and-analysis/uniqlos-neglect-of-its-suppliers-labour-exploitation

Love&&Solidarity!

[1] https://www.uniqlo.com/uk/en/company/

[2] https://www.uniqlo.com/uk/en/company/about_uniqlo.html

[3]
Ibid

[4] https://www.forbes.com/companies/uniqlo/.

[5] http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1819&ea.campaign.id=65507

[6] media.waronwant.org/sites/default/files/WoW_uniqlo%20report%202016.pdf?_ga=2.50691241.1070563432.1493166082-1283920894.1475261908

[7] http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1819&ea.campaign.id=65507

[8] http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/default.aspx?TabId=836&CompanyId=554121&CategoryId=421

[9] http://media.waronwant.org/sites/default/files/WoW_uniqlo%20report%202016.pdf?_ga=2.26959997.15892055.1493503177-1283920894.1475261908

Oh So Ethical’s Third Swapshop!

On 20th August, Oh So Ethical held its third ethical
swap shop. AND IT WAS LITTTT.

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 So what exactly is a swap shop?

A swap shop is simply an event where people get together,
bringing any old clothes they’re looking to get rid of, and swapping them for
someone else’s! You can have public swapping events, or even just bring a bunch
of friends and family round and have a swapping party. Remember the good old
saying, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’? Yep. Fully applies to
this.

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Ours was held in Leytonstone, with some of the most unique
and stunning pieces that you all donated, all hung up ready to be swapped. We
also sold beautiful fair trade handmade jewellery from Uganda made from
recycled beads and a range of vegan goods- with all proceeds going towards the
Rana Plaza Arrangement. This charity provides financial assistance to victims
of the Rana Plaza collapse and their families.

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Waking through the entrance, we had a huge timeline taking
you  on a journey from the beginning of
the garment industry in Bangladesh to the state it’s in now. It is actually
crazy to see how fast things have escalated in such a small space of time, but
it also gives us hope that maybe we can slowly undo the damage that has been
done.

In the same room as the swapping we had a display we created from scrap
paper of a Bengali female with her first in the air with the quote ‘The hands
that wear bangles can also carry swords.’ This is a slogan created and used by
a group of female tea workers in India, who mobilised independently from trade unions to
improve their working conditions and increase their wages. These are the women
who define resilience and strength, which is something not usually associated
with women in the Global South in the mainstream media. They are definitely one of
Oh So Ethical’s greatest inspirations and the hashtag #lifegoals never better
fit to be honest (find out more about them here

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/07/04/483705453/female-tea-workers-in-one-indian-state-fight-for-their-rights

).
We
also had quotes written in red and green hearts (Bangladesh n that)
around our Bengali Queen, with quotes from the Bengali garment workers
who were
interviewed during a protest which took place demanding better
treatment, in the documentary
Udita. By doing this, we wanted to demonstrate that while Bengali women
are going through hell, they are still rising up against oppression and
standing up for their rights with immeasurable amounts of strong-will
and determination. They don’t need our pity, they need our
solidarity.

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So why swapshops?

Many of us are becoming familiar with the term ‘fast fashion’,
which simply refers to when high street retailers mimic catwalk trends and
produce these trends at a cheaper cost. Due to various factors such as the ever-evolving
nature of social media and the various fashion weeks that take place, fashion
trends now change every few weeks, as opposed to every few months as before.
Therefore, in order for high street retailers to stay on top of their game,
they must keep up with these trends and produce cheaper versions of these
styles quickly for fashionistas hungry to remain on trend. As a consequence,
while it once took about six months for products to be on the market, it now
takes just weeks.

What’s the big deal?

Well…a lot.

By demanding new clothes at such a fast pace, in order to
keep up with the changes in trends, this puts pressure on the factory owners
who are expected to produce vast amounts of clothes in a limited space of time.
As a result, garment workers are set near impossible targets to reach daily. If
they don’t achieve these targets the workers (particularly women, who make up
80% of the workforce) are frequently subjected to physical, verbal and sexual
abuse. Many workers report forced overtime, unsanitary conditions, denial of
paid maternity leave, limited toilet breaks, and failure to pay wages and
bonuses on time or in full (read this article for a summary of some of the
horrible things female garment workers must endure http://bkaccelerator.com/9-ways-women-getting-abused-fashion-industry/).
Workers are further put under pressure by the constant competition between
retailers, who compete to see who can produce these catwalk trends as cheaply as
possible. This leads to a reduction in the percentage of income that goes
towards wages and worker’s safety. According to War on Want, the majority of
garment workers in Bangladesh earn little more than the minimum wage, 3,000
taka a month (approximately £25), which is far below what is considered a
living wage, calculated at 5,000 taka a month (approximately £45). This is the
minimum required to provide a family with shelter, food and education. 

Not only this, but the impact on the environment is also debilitating.
In fact, fashion is known to be the second largest polluter in the world, next
to OIL! Indeed, the journey of a garment involves excessive amounts of
insecticides, pesticides and dyes which leak into water systems containing sea
life and often the only source of water for families living nearby. Other
environmental issues include the fact that large amounts of water are used up
during production (7000 litres is needed for just one pair of jeans FAM!),
excessive amounts of greenhouse gases (10% of total greenhouse gas emissions) are
released during production and when clothes are being shipped to the West. Not
forgetting the large amounts of clothes going to landfill (as much as 3 out of
4 garments go to landfill, with only a quarter being recycled) as we move from
one trend to the next (read this article to find out more about the impact fast
fashion is having on the environment http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/fast-fashion-drowning-world-fashion-revolution/blog/56222/).

With the world consuming about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year, which
is 400% more than the amount we consumed just two decades ago, imagine the
impact this is having on both the workers and the environment.

You see what I mean?

Now you might be thinking, ‘it’s okay, I give my clothes to
the charity shop/those places that pay for your second-hand clothes’.
Unfortunately, they don’t tell you the whole story behind what happens to the
clothes.

The fact is, we’re producing and getting rid of clothes at
such a fast pace that even charities cannot deal with the vast amount of
clothes they’re receiving. In fact, just 10-30% of donated clothes are actually sold in the UK. So
where are the rest of the clothes going? Most likely, Africa.

The
second-hand market is rampant in Africa and takes up
most of the garment industry, with people in many African countries
making a
living by selling our second-hand clothes. In fact, a recent report
found that East Africa alone imported $151m of second-hand clothing last
year, most of which was
collected by charities and recyclers in Europe and North America.
However,
governments in East African countries are now making plans to reduce
second-hand
imports and even banning them, to reduce their dependency on our often
poor
quality, unhygienic leftovers. Instead, they are preparing their own
garment
industries and training their own citizens in textiles skills, as a more
sustainable
means of income for their people that is not simply imposed on them for
the
West’s convenience.

So as you can see, a simple purchase can have huge
implications on the world around us.

So how’s a swapshop going to change things?

By swapping clothes instead of buying new ones, we are reducing
the constant excessive demands that are crippling and taking advantage of the
impoverished. We are reducing the environmental destruction required to produce
these clothes. We are reducing the amount of second-hand clothes being sent to
African countries and stalling their independence. If we all unite and perform
small acts such as this, imagine the change we could create.


NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR ACTIONS. EVER.


Thank you to everyone who came down, to Sikandar for the photography,
and to our mums and family and friends who helped out immensely- we had the
best time, and it really motivated us to carry on and hold more, so stay tuned!

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Want us to hold an event near you? GET IN TOUCH!

Twitter: @ohsoethical

Insta: @ohsoethical

Facebook: Oh So Ethical

Snapchat: ohsoethical

Email@ ohsoethicalguide@outlook.com

Female Tea Workers In One Indian State Fight For Their Rights

Female Tea Workers In One Indian State Fight For Their Rights

Fashion Friday’s – Fashion Revolution and After Rana Plaza

Fashion Revolution and After Rana Plaza

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Friday’s
are usually for faves but now they’ll be for Fashion! Don’t worry, we’ll still
deliver our reviews on our favourites at the end of every month!

Today’s Fashion Friday is all about The Fashion
Revolution
. This organisation asks the big question “Who
Made My Clothes?”

Like
OSE, The Fashion Revolution was influenced by the Rana Plaza story in
Bangladesh.

‘On
24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. 1,133 people died
and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial
disaster in history. That’s when Fashion Revolution was born.’

All
three of us OSE girls are Bengali and we feel strongly about fair working
conditions. Fashion Rev believe in ‘an industry that values people, the
environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.’

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Which
perfectly explains the beliefs we share about fashion. The deaths of people who
were earning a living by mass producing clothes in harmful environments for us
in the West to pay for cheaply and dispose of unethically.

The after effects of Rana Plaza are still strong and
you can learn about this more on After Rana Plaza – https://instagram.com/afterranaplaza/  This project showcases the heart
breaking stories of people who have lost everything for us to get that next day
delivery skirt from H&M. These stories epitomise the importance of slowing
down the fashion industry.

Audio
Subtitles: “when she finished her work I always went to pick her from there.i
waited on the ground floor while she finished working. When she did overtime I
always waited for her there”, Samina Begum’s daughter Shahena lost her life in
Rana plaza tragedy. Nostalgia is the only gateway that can take her to Shahena

https://instagram.com/p/9bgvT0Qwss/?taken-by=afterranaplaza

‘Global
consumers had to consider the consequences of their actions for the first time.
What is the cost we are paying for our fashion—our appetite for trends and
cheap clothes? Do people actually realize whose life is behind the clothes they
wear? We must consider, what are the outcomes of this supply and demand, of
people’s lives involved, within the grand system of consumerism? Who is
winning? And, who is losing?’ – http://www.afterranaplaza.com/about/

A
key goal of The Fashion Revolution is to get everyone to work together, this
will result in a lot more transparency. Every detail of clothing has a source,
the colour/dye, the thread, scissors, sewing machines, electricity, hot glue,
plastic buttons and so much more. Every aspect of the clothing industry has the
potential to harm social and environmental factors. This is why transparency is
so significant. If a large clothing manufacturer knew the origin of not just a
dress, but that dress material, dye, buttons and zips, the industry would be so
much more cautious. We need to educate people and get them to want to educate themselves
about where they are sourcing their products.

The
True Cost is a documentary about the fashion industry, in the documentary I
learn that a group of workers were attacked for asking for a living wage and
better working conditions. It broke my heart. I don’t want to support and
industry that is ok with or oblivious to this awful treatment. This is why the
FashionRev movement is so vital in our so called ‘modern’ society.

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These
are tips from The Fashion Revolution for businesses in the fashion industry –

Here
are some ways that companies can demonstrate their commitment to transparency:

1.      
Showcase positive examples of brand/producer relationships.

2.       Make one
product transparent. Companies could do this through tools like ProvenanceCaretrace or
QR codes.

3.       Make at least
one supply chain transparent. Companies could do this through tools like String , Sourcemap or Cotton Connect.

4.      
Map out all your suppliers.

5.      
Document this in an internal database, at least your company knows itself.

6.      
Publish all your suppliers publicly.

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Let’s
find out WHO MADE OUR CLOTHES.

VEGAN MASTER POST

those-who-can-not-speak:

vegan-hippie:

I receive numerous questions daily about veganism and although I’ve answered stacks of them and have resources on my blog, I thought it’d be best to compile useful resources here for easy reference. Feel free to use this to stay informed, reblog and add your own resources and share with uninformed hoes. 

Why go vegan + what is a vegan

My parents won’t let me go vegan 🙁 

Is veganism expensive? 

I have no young money ca$h money, how do I stay vegan? 

Animal ethics: 

Yeah, animals are sentient and shit but I don’t have time to watch (or read about) them suffer for an hour: 

Environmental: 

I have no soul and don’t do anything unless it benefits my external appearance and the HEALTH of my internal organs….will being vegan help???: 

I’m lazy, just give me a summary: 

Ok you’ve convinced me, but what do I buy? I only shop in the meat and dairy isles of the supermarket….never seen an apple in my life: 

Cool beans, but what do I make: 

Vegan recipe websites:

Hope this helps,

Tanisha x x x

Vegan for the animals, the world, the environment, for everything!

This is so perfect.

Upcycled Birthday Present!

Yesterday was Kushi’s birthday, our adorable cousin who just turned two! She loves several kids characters i.e. Peppa Pig, Minions, Mickey Mouse, Ben and Holly and so on. So instead of buying her a bunch of minions toys that were probably mass produced in a factory in China, I could upcycle and old toy and turn it into something she would love.

As Kushi hasn’t quite mastered using the scooter I thought that a Cozy Coupe from Little Tikes would be perfect for her on days out. I didn’t want to buy a new one as I’d be adding to the demand on the toy industry. Kids buy toys by the dozens and then they get thrown out, the plastic ends up in the sea and adding to the pollution can also harm sea life. 

I don’t know of any kids who might have a little tikes coupe or something like it so I searched on Gumtree for one and luckily someone nearby had posted their old Coupe on the site. Initially the coupe was going to be a Minions coupe but google had shown me a Minnie mouse coupe that looked so much more prettier. I also found this article of a bunch of different ways to pimp a coupe. The batman one looks awesome but Kushi doesn’t know of Batman yet. 

I chose the Minnie Mouse Coupe by Megan because it looked adorable. However her method was too technical for my time frame and I cannot saw wood or had an spare wood lying about. 

Instead I bought two A3 foam boards and black & red spray paint from Cowling and Wilcox. Rather than taking the whole thing apart and spray painting individual pieces I covered the red half with a blanket and lots of masking tape and sprayed the top black. In the process I got spray paint in my nose because I had forgotten to cover my nose and mouth >.< Once this dried I covered the black top in masking tape and sprayed the rest of the coupe red. I let this dry for a day while helping out with the Convoy to Calais drop off at Queen Mary (next one is on the 10th in Hackney don’t miss it)

Cutting Foam board is super tricky to get perfect edges so I cut as close as possible then covered the edges with black electrical tape. 

For the bow I hadn’t decide how to make it but as I had an extra foam board and red spray paint I thought it would make a cool bow that would match the coupe. The border of the bow is made from nail gems that my sister bought years ago. 

I glue gunned the ears together, then the bow on top and then each gem around the edge. Glue Gunning tiny gems does take about an hour to do and I burnt my fingers with the hot glue >.< I bought round white stickers from whsmith and used those as the polka dots but they started falling off so I glue gunned them all the the coupe. The coupe was finished by now I just had to spray on some lacquer so that the colours wouldn’t fade. 

To make the pillow I used an old cushion as we have plenty and made a pillow case from red polka dot material. After sewing on the buttons I glue gunned it to the seats backrest. 

In total this project took around 12 hours to make over a few days – not including drying time. 

Items reused / upcycled –

  • Pillow 
  • Gems
  • Electrical tape
  • Cozy Coupe

Items bought –

  • Spray Paint
  • Stickers
  • Foam Boards
  • Polka dot Material

If I had more time and the right supplies I’d try to find second hand spray paint and reused wood for the bow. 

Before

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After

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