Home' Nova National : October 2010 Contents Porter, the chic fashion figure chides the
journalists for their meaningless fashion
questions, and so there comes a whammy:
how is that fashion produces half the
pollution in the world? The fashionista
So what are we to do? There's a
tool called the "waste hierarchy", which
basically recommends steps for action,
which maximises ecological action and
minimises waste. We can apply it to fashion
equally as we can to plastic bottles.
We can start, by Refusing or avoiding
getting sucked into meaningless levels of
consumption of clothes fed by changing
styles. We will need to educate each
other, and find ways to support the young.
As every teenage girl learns, there's a
tougher side to fashion, heavily marketed.
The trip downtown often raises more
questions than it gives retail answers.
This may go with that, but does it go with
me? This jacket may be popular, but does
it follow I will be popular? Must I keep
up with the fashions, or find a style that
endures? Elders, give a hand! If we buy
less, we can afford to pay more often for
the clothes made from organic farming,
or purchase quality fabrics that will last a
long time. Then we can Reuse our clothes.
Mend and re-cut, so that we get more
Being ecologically minded doesn't start
with Recycling, but that's the next step,
and what op-shops are for! Beyond that,
© NOVA OCTOBER 2010
'So fashion dances
between questions about
our own self worth, and the
value we give to the earth.'
there's less to do with the consumer,
because the Recovery part of the waste
hierarchy involves trying to extract fibres
and turn them into resources. Only then,
and as last resort, should clothes be turned
into energy or disposed of in landfill.
As a young person I knew nothing
about landfill. I belonged to that group of
1970s environmental carers who have a
lot to learn about dressing well. In 1972,
I believed the salesperson who told me
that the lurid lime green Speedos were
going to be very popular that year. (If
you weren't around: they weren't.) In
1976, my first girlfriend talked me into
buying platform shoes. (I wore the shoes
once, and quietly found a nice op shop to
move them on to.) I still need help
shopping -- that what looks good on a rack
might not look good on me.
So fashion dances between questions
about our own self worth, and the value
we give to the earth. It juggles our need
to stand out as well dressed, and the call
to stand up for better treatment of
workers in far-off lands. It is about wanting
to buy cheap, and yet beginning to notice
what this cheapness costs someone else,
whose name you and I do not know, who
lives in China, or Bangladesh, or Fiji. We
may hesitate at paying higher prices for
organic T-shirts, or fair trade clothes,
but we may be making a life safer than it
would have been, and a river cleaner.
When fashion has virtue, there is style.
When fashion goes into excess, there's a
wide selection of vices to choose from.
So much of it seems beyond our control.
But check the label of the clothes you are
wearing right now. Think of the person
who made them. Quietly send them a
thank you, in your mind or in your heart.
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