Why do we need a clothes library?
Do you ever think about the people who made your clothes?
Almost everything we wear is made by human hands
What kind of lives they have; what their working conditions are like? Imagine the work that has gone in to producing the garment. For example, that t-shirt you love.
- Before it was a t-shirt, someone grew the cotton.
- Someone else processed the cotton.
- The cotton was spun.
- Then knitted in to fabric.
- It was probably dyed somewhere else.
- Someone designed the t-shirt.
- The fabric was cut.
- Then sewn.
- Any embellishments will have also been added.
Before reaching the shop floor many people will have been involved in the making of the garment, and it may have travelled through multiple countries and continents before you wear it. If that t-shirt only cost $15, how can all those people be earning a fair wage?
We are increasingly just trying to be good citizens. We’re conscious about what we put in our bodies, in terms of the food that we eat and we’re doing better at recycling household waste.
However, we are still buying a staggering 400% more clothes than we did 20 years ago.
TWO MAIN PROBLEMS
In March 2018 the UN cautioned that the fashion industry’s practice of churning out increasingly large volumes of cheap, disposable clothing is an “environmental and social emergency.”
The human cost
The fashion industry has a nasty history of worker exploitation.
An estimated 1 in 6 people worldwide work in a job related to fashion, an industry whose supply chain has a reputation for unsafe conditions, child labor, and other exploitative practices, especially for girls and women.
The environmental cost
- Around 80 billion garments are made each year.
- About one third of that is never sold - it gets incinerated.
- About three quarters of the garments will end up in landfill or get incinerated.
We now treat clothes as disposable
This has huge consequences for the planet. It takes a lot of resources to create a garment and the textile industry, as a whole, is the second biggest polluter, only oil is worse. And how we care for our clothes has a huge impact - washing polyester releases plastic microfibres that contaminate the food chain and water supply.
So what can we do?
We need to buy less stuff
The UN have named climate change “the most systemic threat to humankind”. Climate change is a problem of production and consumption. We aren’t going to stop climate change by shopping.
The biggest impact we can make, as individuals, is by buying less stuff - not just clothes.
What about buying second hand or 'ethical' brands?
Buying second hand and ethical brands are helpful steps, but did you know that opshops can’t sell a lot of the clothes donated because the quality is poor or fashions too fleeting? This often still goes to landfill and that costs them money. And if we all switched to buying organic cotton clothes tomorrow - that would not be sustainable, not at the rate we currently consume
Carousel's long-term goals
The long term goals are wider than simply lending clothes. Carousel aims to raise awareness about how we can make a positive impact with our purchasing behaviour. It’s about encouraging people to think about and recycle what you already own, running workshops to teach people mending and upcycling skills, helping you to run clothes swaps.
We would like to work with fashion design students and help to put sustainability on their radars. And when Carousel starts turning a profit, work on creating a closed-loop business. This will provide employment to people with sewing skills who can take discarded waste garments that would otherwise go to landfill and produce clothing and homewares that can be sold.