Fair fashion

How much do we value the things we already have? Not much it seems. There are an estimated 2.4 billion pieces of women’s clothing lying unworn for an entire 12 months (some brand new). And the average UK woman spends nearly £13,000 on clothes she will never wear in a lifetime. UK Gov/Sunday Times. (Sadly, there were no figures for men available.)

But just as we’re caring more what goes into our food and where it comes from, if we’re joining up the dots in the way we live our lives, we should be looking closely at clothes, too.

So what goes into what we wear? Oil, chemicals, sweat and tears?  Or natural fibres, happy workers and fair trading? The choices we make are not just to do with cost.

Here’s a simple question. Why is it that so many of those fab new, cheap clothes fray and fall apart at the earliest opportunity?

The simple answer is hardly rocket science. They’re not made to last so that we’ll need to go and buy something else. Again. And again. And again…

We are, after all, called consumers these days rather than citizens.

But let’s not get above ourselves here. And let’s be realistic. We can’t all afford to go for expensive designer gear every time we need a new T-shirt. And sadly, even the brilliant ethical choices aren’t always in our price range.

So what do we do?

The best advice is to do what we can and be as kind to the planet and its people as possible. No one wants to be supporting sweatshops where workers, including children, are paid a pittance and slave away in often toxic conditions so we can enjoy cheap clobber on our high streets.

We could start by buying less. And by getting the very best we can afford so it lasts longer. Then if we really value the clothes we have, we could learn to repair and restore them when they need help, rather than tossing them in the bin.

And how about swishing – the new clothes craze? If you’re bored with something in your wardrobe, you could always swap it with something you fancy from someone else. Swishing parties are fun, practical and popular, and if there aren’t any near you, perhaps it’s time to arrange your own with friends and neighbours…