In lieu of Fashion Revolution Week 2017, the MIDPA organised a series of events on the topic. We would like to thank everyone that attended and we hope this summary will inspire you to take action.
Presentation on ethical consumption
To start us off, we had a presentation on ethical consumption in an event between Monash SEED and VGen. The event dealt with social enterprise, fair trade, and ethical consumption, all related to the fashion industry.
Here are some key points we took from the event:
-There are two essential questions in the move towards achieving a level of ethical consumption and a sustainable industry: Where do I purchase clothing? How do I get rid of clothing?
-The free-market development approach has led to economic growth in many countries around the world, but we are also starting to understand some of the consequences of globalisation and increasing market pressure.
-From an environmental perspective: increase in water usage, air pollution and water pollution, toxification of cotton farmers, release of microfibres from washing our clothes, waste of valuable resources as clothing is ending up in landfills.
-From an economic perspective: developing countries are becoming economically dependent on the clothing production e.g. almost 80% of exports in Bangladesh come from textiles.
-From a social perspective: human rights violations, unhealthy working conditions, underpaid workers, harassments and abuses towards garment workers, child labour and modern slavery.
-Fairtrade is one way of addressing some of the social issues that are found in the fashion industry.
Nonetheless, we invite you to reflect whether fairtrade and ethical consumption is the solution to all of these issues. Should we all just change to “good” brands in order to fix the fashion industry? The continuous need for novelty and the never-ending hunger for re-identifying ourselves through objects are the principles upon which high consumption and the fashion industry are built.
Therefore, if we do not change our attitude towards consumption, buying fairtrade and ethically sourced products are falling under the category of “Slacktivism”. Slacktivism means that people buy products from companies that claim to have a good cause, but do not change their values or consumer habits accordingly. To truly be an ethical consumer, it is important to consider why you buy a product, and think of the bigger picture and philosophy you are buying into.
Participatory workshop on power dynamics in the fashion supply chain
Our second event was a participatory workshop on power dynamics in the fashion supply chain organised by the MIDPA. In the discussion, several good points concerning the challenges of creating better wages for garment workers were raised. We discussed how power behind different interests of stakeholders is part of shaping existing practices. We also reflected on why these issues exist, and what actions each stakeholder (politicians, garment workers, CEOs) should take to improve the current situation.
To conclude, we debated on what responsibility we have as consumers to prevent the exploitation of workers in the fashion industry. Participants shared examples of good practices in Melbourne and abroad, and how to be more conscious and aware when it came to clothes consumption. One interesting point was price-counting one’s clothes to figure out the price per wear. To conclude, we leave you with an insightful comment from one of the participants: “We live in a very materialistic world, but we actually don’t care about our materials”.
Initiative with Monash University branded apparel
A group of MIDPA members has begun enquiring how sustainable and ethical the sourcing of Monash University’s branded apparel is. In the spirit of Fashion Revolution Week, we encourage students to call for better transparency by taking a photo of your Monash jumper or t-shirt, put it on Facebook or Instagram and hashtag #fashionrevolution #whomademyclothes #monashuniversity
Look at your life, look at your choices
If the topics above have inspired to do something about your role as an ethical consumer, here are some guides/videos/websites to start you off in the right direction:
The Baptist World Aid Australia fashion report – a guide to help you make informed choices when deciding where to buy
Ethical Guide – another fantastic guide that walks you through the ethics of consumption in the fashion industry
Fashion Revolution – get inspired by Fashion Revolution and get involved with one of their many activities
How to Engage with Ethical Fashion – a must watch Ted-Talk on ethical fashion
Changing the World Through Fashion– another recommended Ted-Talk that will inspire you to take action
Conscious Consumerism – great article to increase your awareness when it comes to consumption
If you would like a copy of the 2017 Ethical Fashion Guide or would simply love to discuss this further, do not hesitate to contact our Sustainability Officer, Ida Marie (Maggie).