I think I’ve fan-girled on here a couple of times over Stacey Dooley and she was the only reason I started watching Strictly Come Dancing (I stayed for the sequins). Her documentaries are so interesting and she really gets to the nitty gritty of important issues. Her latest documentary really got to me because it was about something I love – fast fashion.
Now, before I go on if you’ve read the Twitter thread I created this morning then I’m going to make a lot of repeated points. Buuut I thought it was important to put it all in a blog post too so *shrugs*.
So if you haven’t seen the documentary, let me break it down for you.
Stacey was investigating the effects of fast fashion on the planet. She first went to Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan where the Aral Sea lies. The Aral Sea used to be colossal and the people living on it’s coast lines depended on it for water, food and jobs. Due rivers that feed the sea being diverted to water cotton fields in Uzbekistan, an area the size of Ireland (!!) has now dried up meaning no water, no food, no jobs and no tourism. Pretty shit right?
Following this she found out that 15,000 litres of water is used in making cotton to make ONE pair of jeans – ONE! That’s mental isn’t it? People around the world have no access to clean water or have to walk miles and miles for it – And one pair of jeans gets 15,000 litres. WTF.
At a global summit for sustainability in fashion, Stacey tried to speak to some major retailers about what they are doing for the planet and she got nowhere. Only a guy from Levi’s would talk to her and good on him cos it definitely made me want to purchase my next pair of jeans from them – They are working on ways to reduce their water consumption and change the way cotton is produced (and when they figure it out they will make the knowledge public).
She then went to Indonesia, a country that I adore, to explore the effect that factories producing clothes have on local communities. This is the bit that really got to me – The factories along this one river, of which there are around 400, dump their waste in the river. This waste includes dangerous metals like lead, mercury and arsenic.
And along the river? Aswell as the factories? You have communities – Communities that depend on the river for survival. They use it for drinking water, to cook with, to wash their pots with, to wash their bodies with. The kids even use this dirty, disgusting water to play in.
She went to speak to a guy who deals with environmental issues in Indonesia (can’t remember his official title sorry) and he said there are rules in place but the factories will not adhere to them. And the companies that employ them to make their garments aren’t particularly bothered about the damage the factory is doing as long as the price is right – Including some Western companies.
It made me really sad. And shocked. And appalled. And angry.
I was sad for the people and the planet.
I was shocked at how much resources fast fashion uses.
I was appalled at my own spending habits and how I buy things impulsively because I want them, not because I need them, only for me to forget about them a week later or throw them away when they start to look grubby.
And I was angry. Angry that it isn’t common knowledge that fashion is the world’s SECOND largest producer of pollution. Angry that the big retailers didn’t want to talk to Stacey about how they are doing their bit (maybe they aren’t doing their bit and that’s the point?). Angry at how wasteful we have become. Angry at myself for how much I spend, how much I chuck away, how I didn’t know.
I was angry at Michael Gove’s shitty pathetic response to Stacey’s questions. His spokesperson was waffling on about plastic (and rightly so) but that wasn’t what she was talking about – She was talking about all of the above. The water usage, the toxic waste, the people whose basic human rights are affected negatively because of the West’s craving for fast fashion.
Then I realised being angry isn’t useful.
Being angry and sitting on it won’t do anything.
I need to use my voice and my words to make a change in my little bubble the best I can. Which is why I’m writing this post I guess. To encourage any of you reading this that maybe you don’t need to go to Primark this weekend. That you don’t need to order an outfit from ASOS for your big night out. That you should delve into the depths of your wardrobe and re-wear something you’d forgotten about or do a clothes swap with a friend.
I sound like a hypocrite, I know. I’m always waffling on about how I bought this or that or sharing an affiliate link to something I love. But that needs to stop because I’m only adding to this ‘must have, must buy’ fast fashion culture we have found ourselves in.
I think it’s great that Stacey Dooley invited some influencers on to discuss fast fashion – They all looked as shocked as me when they saw the footage that had been produced.
Some people felt like influencers were being attacked but I personally didn’t. Influencers are exactly that – Influencers. The girls chosen for the show have a MASSIVE reach and if they mention that they are trying to be more sustainable and eco-friendly, it will encourage their audience to do the same and in turn it will make a difference. Youtubers and bloggers often share hauls (myself included) and that’s only adding fuel to the fire. Influencers can make a massive difference if they use their voices and I think it was great of Stacey to acknowledge that.
SO what next?
Well Vix Meldrew created a blog post that has heaps of ideas on how you can be more sustainable. She also linked to a couple of good blogs, websites and documentaries that you can watch/read to educate yourself further and she set up a new IG account – Slow.Styling – The Antithesis of Fast Fashion. It’s an account dedicated to people who re-style old clothes and you can use #SlowStyling to get involved.
(One of the links was to the fashion transparency index and if you go to page 34 you can see how good/bad brands are doing when it comes to the five key areas of transparency in regards to their social and encironmental policies, practices and impact).
I’m planning on watching Netflix documentary ‘The True Cost’ at some point over the next week and I’m going to be looking into retailers environmental and sustainability policies a bit deeper. I’m going to have a rifle through my wardrobe and re-style old items and try to drastically reduce what I buy. I’m going to try and find some ethical retailers to buy from (let me know if you can recommend any?!) and shopping locally/independently is going to be the direction I try go in.
Like I said in my Twitter thread, I’m only a small fish in a huge toxic problematic sea, but if I can make a little bit of a difference then it’s worth it right? And hopefully, all the other little fishies who watched the documentary feel the same way as me, meaning that it will make an even bigger difference.