In my last post, where I talked about sustainable fashion and its class problem, I said that we should focus our energies on getting brands and the government to take action, instead of on individuals. I realise that this can be a difficult task, so I’ve come up with five ways that we can push brands and governments to make a change in the fashion industry.
1) Use the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes on Instagram
This hashtag was created by game-changing charity Fashion Revolution. The idea is that you take a photo of the clothing you’re wearing, making sure the label is showing, and ask the brand #WhoMadeMyClothes? The hashtag has been used over 500,000 times on Instagram, and the idea behind it is that it puts pressure on brands. It shows that consumers are worried about who is making their clothes, and that they’re concerned about the conditions that they’re making them in. It’s a quick and easy way to make an impact and get brands thinking.
2) Write your MP a letter
Contacting your MP is a good way to get sustainable fashion talked about in government. I’ve created a template which I have emailed to my MP which you could also email:
Dear (name of MP),
My name is (your name) and I am your constituent. I wanted to write to you about my concerns with the fashion industry. As I’m sure you are aware currently there exists huge threat to the environment due to climate change. The fashion industry is a substantial part of this, and I feel that the government is not doing enough in this area. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, which is more than the aviation industry. Furthermore, 87% of total fibre used to make clothes is incinerated or disposed of in landfill, making it extremely wasteful. These statistics worry me and it’s something I would like to see addressed in government.
I am also concerned about the lack of transparency in the fashion industry in regards to workers making the clothes. Most high-street brands don’t have any information indicating that they pay their workers a living wage, and it’s difficult to determine if they are working in good conditions. There are frequent news stories about garment workers for high-street brands making clothes in sweatshop conditions. This is not acceptable, and I believe the government should be doing more to ensure these brands are transparent about their practices and workers are not being exploited.
I would be grateful if you were able to raise these issues.
I look forward to hearing back.
(Your Postal Address)
(Your Contact Number)
If you have the time, its definitely a good idea to maybe add something a bit personal in. For example, as a student I stated in my letter that I’m worried about climate change effecting my future.
You can use this website to find your MP’s email address.
3) Send DM’s and Tweets to Brands:
A quick and easy action you can take is to send the occasional direct message or tweet to a brand to ask them about the way their clothing is made. Oftentimes they will send back a generic response which likely has a link to the ‘sustainability’ page of their website. Even though this may seem a bit of a disappointing result, brands do start to notice when they are continually DM’ed and tweeted about these issues. They start to realise that the people buying their clothes do really care about these issues; and it does have an impact.
I recently tweeted Primark about the ‘sustainable’ wellness collection they had recently released. I found it ironic that their wellness range mentioned nothing about the people who made the clothes, and Primark have a dark past of using sweatshop labour. After a follow up tweet, I received absolutely no response to Primark. If anything, it just proves that there continues to be shady business going on behind the scenes at Primark. Showing that a brand is being completely opaque in regards to workers conditions on a platform like twitter allows others who would consider buying there to think twice.
4) Sign Petitions:
Even quicker than the last tip, it takes less than 30 seconds to sign a petition. Organisations such as Fashion Revolution and Labour Behind the Label often post on social media about petitions they are starting or endorsing. In fact, Labour Behind the Label have an ongoing petition, which aims to force fast fashion brand Boohoo to be more transparent about who their garment workers are and the conditions they are making their clothes in. You can sign that petition here. Petitions are a great way to get a lot of numbers behind a message and show that people really do care about the issue. It’s also super important to share the petition after you sign it so that your social media followers can sign it too.
5) Start a Blog, Social Media, or a Career:
The biggest way you can have an impact is to create your own platform to talk about the issues within the fashion industry. A blog is a great way to write long-form content that can really get into the details of the fashion industry and its problems. Social media is a great option as it is shorter-form content, but it has the ability to be easily seen by many more people. Starting a career is a way you can devote most of your time to these issues. There are many ways you can do this, you could work for an organisation like Fashion Revolution or Labour Behind the Label which I had mentioned previously. You could also work for a sustainable fashion brand like People Tree. You could even get into a political career, which would be a great way of bringing these issues to the forefront of political discussion.
These are five ways I’ve come up with to make a change in the fashion industry. I think it’s important to remember that sometimes change is small, we can feel like our actions aren’t really achieving much. But the reality is when we all take these actions, big change does come. We need to keep the conversation going and let people know that these are serious issues we need to tackle, if you want some quick facts about the issues in the fashion industry, check out this post. I would love to know if any of you have more ideas on how we can make change in the fashion industry, let me know in a comment or send me a tweet!