Ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximises benefits to people and communities while minimising impact on the environment. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, and the environment, revival of crafts, fair trade, sustainable fashion and animal welfare.
Importance of ethical fashion
Ethical fashion has become a hot issue in recent years as consumers have begun to realize the effects of the current clothing production system on people and the environment. It aims to address the problems it sees with the way the fashion industry currently operates, such as exploitative labour, environmental damage, and the use of hazardous chemicals, waste, and animal cruelty. It also brings in notice how the low costs and disposable nature of high street fashion means that much of it is destined for incinerators or landfill sites. The UK alone throws away 1 million tones of clothing every year. Thus ethical fashion shows the importance of sustainable fashion along with working on the concept of sustainable fashion.
Categories of ethical fashion
* Vegan: Products that have been made without the use of leather or animal tissue. Examples are shoes and bags made from “vegetal leather” using Amazonian rubber instead of animal skins or other recycled or man-made materials. * Ethically Produced: Ethical fashion is fashion that has been produced with respect for people and the environment. Although there are existing certifications for Organic and Fair Trade * Craft/Artisan: Products that have been crafted using artisan skills such as embroidery, which preserve the perpetuation of ancestral traditions. * Custom: Also called demi-couture or made-to-order. This is a way of encouraging quality and “slow fashion” over mass-produced disposable fashion. * Fair Trade Certified: An organized movement that promotes standards for international labour (such as reasonable work hours, no child labour, the right to unionize, a fair living wage), environmentalism, and social policy in areas related to production of goods.
Issues related to ethical fashion
Ethical Fashion aims to address the problems it sees with the way the fashion industry currently operates, such as exploitative labor, environmental damage, and the use of hazardous chemicals, waste, and animal cruelty. Serious concerns are often raised about exploitative working conditions in the factories that make cheap clothes for the high street. * Child workers, alongside exploited adults, can be subjected to violence and abuse such as forced overtime, as well as cramped and unhygienic surroundings, bad food, and very poor pay. The low cost of clothes on the high street means that less and less money goes to the people who actually make them.
* Cotton provides much of the world's fabric, but growing it uses 22.5% of the world's insecticides and 10% of the world's pesticides, chemicals which can be dangerous for the environment and harmful to the farmers who grow it. (Ethical Fashion Forum)
* Current textile growing practices are considered unsustainable because of the damage they do to the immediate environment. For example, the Aral Sea in Central Asia has shrunk to just 15% of its former volume, largely due to the vast quantity of water required for cotton production and dying. (Ethical Fashion Forum)
* Most textiles are treated with chemicals to soften and dye them, however these chemicals can be toxic to the environment and can be transferred to the skin of the people wearing them. Hazardous chemicals used commonly in the textile industry are: lead, nickel, chromium IV, aryl amines, phthalates and formaldehyde. (Greenpeace)
* The low costs and disposable nature of high street fashion means that much of it is destined for incinerators or landfill...