Government rejects fashion clean-up
You may have seen the news last week that there was a report put forward to the government about addressing the negative environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry. You may have also seen the anger from the sustainability community when this report, developed by cross-party MPs, was swiftly rejected in its entirety.
The Environmental Audit Committee put together a report called “Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption And Sustainability”, which looked into the damage being done by our current ‘fast fashion’ model in the UK. The report also contained several recommendations for the government to take in order to take action on the crisis we are facing – the government chose to reject every single one.
I think this is the reason I am so angry about this news, it’s the fact that they wouldn’t even consider any of these recommendations. It just shows that they are not taking the issues of environmental destruction and garment worker’s rights seriously, even when it is affecting their own citizens. As a result of researching for this blog post I found out that there are currently garment workers in factories across Leicester working for less than minimum wage, which, as a result, makes the ‘Made in the UK’ label effectively meaningless (source)
Labour MP and Chairwoman of the Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh, said: “The government has rejected our call, demonstrating that it is content to tolerate practices that trash the environment and exploit workers, despite having just committed to net zero emission targets. Ministers have failed to recognise that urgent action must be taken to change the fast fashion business model which produces cheap clothes that cost the earth.”
A government spokesperson said that they weren’t rejecting the recommendations, but that they were already doing most them. Well, if that was true, then why are we in this state of crisis and why would this committee have put together this report asking for more action? If the government was, in fact, putting into action all the plans it says it is, surely we would be hearing about it and seeing some results from these movements? You can read the full response from the government here.
Reading through the government’s responses to the report by the EAC, it just solidifies my understanding of the UK government as an outdated system that serves those in power, and not many others. They are incredibly out of touch with the people of the UK and, furthermore, don’t show any interest in finding out our wants and needs as a country. In their response to the report, they basically just referred to programmes they have either developed or endorsed already, and used them as justifications for not taking any action on the recommendations put forward.
Carry Somers, Founder of Fashion Revolution, commented on the government’s rejection of the report saying “The government’s comprehensive rejection of the EAC’s proposals is so short sighted in the light of the current climate emergency. Voluntary initiatives alone will not be enough to get brands to take responsibility for their actions and impacts.”
So, where does this leave us? Well, if I’m honest I’m not entirely sure. I think that there should be a petition sent round to get the government to reconsider the report again, or at least have a more constructive discussion with the EAC about the changes it is willing to make. But if we can’t make the government change for us, we’ll have to just fight the system ourselves! Here’s a quick list of ideas I’ve come up with:
· Boycott the WORST offenders (Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, Missguided, etc) – fast fashion ain’t fashionable hun…
· Reduce the amount of clothing you buy – trust me, you already have everything you could need to look good and feel good, hanging in your wardrobe – go and rediscover them!
· Write letters to your local MPs, calling on them to support the EAC and put pressure on the government to reconsider their rejection of this report.
· Support companies like Fashion Revolution, Labour Behind the Label and Eco-Age, who work towards moving the fashion industry to a more sustainable structure and have campaigns you can take part in to spread awareness!
· Follow sustainable fashion bloggers who promote slow fashion, eco-friendly materials and transparent brands – this is the type of influencer who is making the world a better place.
Stay angry guys, it’s the only way we’ll make any difference around here.