To be honest, I only have one good friend who also shares my passion for the sustainable textile industry. Having met a few years back as interns working on a sustainable fashion show, we continue to share amazing discussions about how we are going to rid the world of sweatshops and fast fashion….Good times!
I am so passionate about the textile industry and everything that goes on behind the scenes, that I want to share this information with everyone. However, sometimes there is a fine line between informing and preaching, which I am very concerned about overstepping. Therefore, I only share if people ask questions and are genuinely interested in finding out more about the industry… which happens very rarely.
So when a loved one tells me excitedly that they went on a shopping spree and picked up a bunch of $5 t-shirts or what not, I cringe inwardly and try not to ruin their excitement. I know where those t-shirts have come from and the conditions under which they were manufactured. And that is nothing to be excited about.
As someone who stumbled upon the wonderful and extremely complex world of the sustainable textile industry a few years ago (that story coming up next week), I consider myself aware of the many issues, but definitely not an expert.
That’s why I created this site. I want to share the information about what really happens in the industry- the good and bad. I want to do it in a way that is interesting, informative and intelligent. I want people to be able to take something away from it and use it in any way they choose. I am also writing it for me- to deepen my knowledge of the industry and keep on top of what is happening.
But before I get into the juicy stuff, I was curious to know just how aware the people around me were of the issues in the textile industry. A lot of buzzwords are thrown about these days within the fashion industry (such as eco, fair, sustainable, green…), it can all get very confusing. But how do people actually interpret these words?
So I conducted a survey with friends, family and anyone else who wanted to join in. I had my own preconceived ideas of how the results would turn out and wanted to see if these suspicions would be proven correct.
The results of the survey are all presented on the infographic below, but I wanted to highlight a few major points.
The price of the goods is a major consideration for people when they make a purchase. And understandably so- there aren’t many people in the world (certainly no one I know) that have money as an unlimited resource. Today’s Western culture particularly favours, and expects, very low prices. But as you will learn in coming articles, this low cost culture is a very worrying issue in the textile industry- someone, somewhere is bearing the true cost of the item.
This brings me to the questions relating to the manufacturing process and working conditions. This is an industry which unfortunately favours the use of off-shore manufacturing and the exploitation of people and the environment in developing countries.
In regards to the working conditions of garment workers, there has been a lot more news coverage in the past couple of years, bringing it to the attention of the mainstream consumers. Unfortunately, the environmental effects of the textile industry have received little attention in comparison. Therefore, I expected the results to show more consideration towards working conditions than the environment.
Nevertheless, it is still disappointing to see that the workers and the environment are not a major consideration for most people. In my view, this highlights a disconnect between people and the purchases they make. People are buying and buying, without giving much thought to the process of how that product came to be in that shop- and this is where the problem lies.
Back to the preaching. I am realistic and I know that not everyone has the resources at hand to buy perfectly ethical and sustainable clothing 100 per cent of the time. Time, money, convenience, and location all play a major role in how people shop. But with every ethical and sustainable purchase, people can make a difference in the textile industry.
It all starts with awareness and information.