“Ethical” and “shopping ethically” have become growing buzz-words, with the former thankfully being found more often in the mission statement of companies who are choosing to run their business with an ethical footprint.
The words ethical and fashion are two words not used together very often. That being said, I must give credit to the 84 local fashion labels that have voluntarily been accredited as ethical manufacturers, which is a good place to start.
The Abbott government has critically cut funding from our local ethical compliance programme that monitors dealings in Australia between local fashion companies and local manufacturers. As for the fast fashion “chain stores” that so many have lovingly supported and made thrive, there is nothing good to say about them ethically. The industry has been hit hard by cheap imports, which deals another blow to the local manufacturers. When you leave the ethical up to the fashion companies, more often than not they will take the option to exploit who they can for a bigger margin, primarily due to greed. I have seen this happen firsthand over and over, with the major Australian labels in the best position to work ethically being the worst offenders.
The fashion industry is one of the major polluters of fresh waterways in developing countries as there is no overarching world government body to keep them in check. Exploitation and degradation of natural resources and cheap labour from third world countries are the norm and it seems the Abbott government is happy to encourage it in Australia for the sake of freeing up business.
But at what cost?
This begs the question as to whether we have the right to interrogate unfair manufacturing practices when in fact it is our greedy consumerism that lacks integrity and we ignore the concept of shopping ethically. We have only harmed society by allowing these manufacturers to exploit others so that we can have that cheap top or dress many will most likely only will wear once and forget about so quickly.
It’s easy to turn a blind eye but maybe it will be your industry next if you have clearly shown the government that it is OK to remove workers’ rights via unethical shopping habits.
Does it not clearly gives the message to our leaders that we don’t care about anything but cheap goods?
Can we then be upset that the government will choose not to care about us or our working rights?
With all this in mind, perhaps it is time to think carefully about shopping ethically and ask the valid questions – where did this come from, who made it and were they paid fairly?