Last year, I attended the first Future Fabrics Expo and found it to be an informative research opportunity that I highly recommend to others. As a fashion student interested in responsible sourcing most of my research had previously been online and I was grateful for the chance to browse at the Expo; getting up close to so many new and exciting fabrics.
Now in its second year the Future Fabrics Expo is expanding to include further information about other aspects of fashion supply chains as well as moving to the prestigious Rootstein Hopkins Space. I am excited by the broader scope of this year’s event which again promises to be an invaluable experience for designers and students alike.
As you may have heard, there’s been a devastating accident and subsequent oil spill off the coast of Tauranga in New Zealand. This is pretty devastating as the environmental impact is huge! Sometimes in these situations, it feels like since we’re so far away, all we can do is watch totally helpless! But, it turns out, there is something we can do. There’s been a call by Skeinz.com for people to help the blue penguins affected by the oil spill by knitting them some little sweaters. Apparently, the sweaters help keep the penguins warm while they recover from the health impacts of being coated by toxic oil. It also help to stop them from preening themselves thereby preventing them for ingesting said oil. Once they’re strong enough, the sweaters are removed and the penguins are washed using a mild detergent.
So, if you know how to knit and have other friends who know how to knit, or you’re taking a knitting class or are a member of a knitting club…or anything along those lines…why not have a knitting party!! What a great way to spend a Sunday brunch! Merino and mimosas 🙂
And just to help you along, here are a few patterns and instructions:
You’ve likely followed the mass faintings of garment workers that have taken place in Cambodia this year. While most reports have cited gruelling working conditions and worker exposure to toxic chemicals as likely causes, reasons for the faintings remain unclear.
Add to this a recent report out of Yale Law School’s Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, “Tearing Apart at the Seams: How Widespread Use of Fixed-Duration Contracts Threatens Cambodian Workers and the Cambodian Garment Industry.”
The report highlights an amendment to relax restrictions on fixed-duration contracts would compromise the rights of garment workers under both Cambodian and international law. As a result, the authors advise the government not to amend the current labour law.
“The Cambodian government has been considering amending the labor law to ease restrictions on fixed-duration contracts. The country’s apparel industry is already facing heightened international scrutiny because of the mass firings of workers who participated in a strike last year over low wages. One of the main competitive advantages of the Cambodian garment industry is its reputation for progress on protecting workers’ rights, so it is important to understand the human rights consequences of using FDCs and the impact that permitting their expansion could have on Cambodia’s competitiveness.” (James Silk, director of the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic)
While we wait to learn how all of this will continue to play out, we thought we’d leave you on a positive note, and (re)draw your attention to an important health and safety education initiative we posted on our Facebook page a couple of weeks ago: The ILO-BFC’s Garment Workers Open University 2011.
“Each Sunday, nearly 500 workers, from 20 garment factories, attended a full-day training to learn some basic knowledge about the Cambodian Labour Law, and obtain information about social protection services available to them.” (ILO-BFC)
The Made-by Environmental Benchmark for Fibres has been updated to reflect new research. The benchmark considers six categories: greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) until spinning, human toxicity, ecological toxicity, energy and water input and land use (Made-by).
“In response to feedback we have included new fibres in this updated Benchmark; mechanically and chemically recycled polyesters are now differentiated to represent the different environmental impacts of the recycling technologies used, and recycled wool has been added in Class A. Whilst we are keeping an eye on this area, there have been no new studies made publically available to help us review the current classification of virgin wool.” (Made-by)
Please note: This is an environmental benchmark, and does not include information on any labour rights issues that may or may not be associated with the growing, processing, or manufacturing of the fibres.
No matter where we sit—consumer, designer, marketer, researcher, educator, etc.—on the global apparel supply chain, our understanding of responsibility stems from our values, individual or shared.
“By design, we start with values” (William McDonough)
We must constantly ask ourselves: “What are my values? What are my intentions? Do they align? How do they translate in practice?” Easier said than done? Not with Cradle to Cradle (C2C) design theory: C2C encapsulates values in design, by design.
“the seeds for creating a vibrant, more sustainable fashion industry in Bangladesh have started to be sown”
(Steps Towards Sustainability: Snapshot Bangladesh: pg. 4)
This must read report presents case studies as a snapshot that “[e]ducators and students can explore them from design, business and apparel management perspectives.” (Steps Towards Sustainability: Snapshot Bangladesh: pg. 6)
Case Study 1
People Tree: Designing differently
Case Study 2
New Look and Echotex: Addressing long hours, low pay and buying practices
Case Study 3
Aranya Crafts: Pioneers in natural dyes
Citation: Parker, E. (2011) Steps towards Sustainability inFashion: Snapshot Bangladesh, edited by Hammond, L., Higginson, H. and Williams,D., London College of Fashion and Fashioning an Ethical Industry.
“To sustainably reduce poverty, guarantee food and nutrition security and provide decent employment for growing populations, we must make the most intelligent use of our natural capital.” (UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon)
What can you do? Get involved and register your activity or pledge an action here.
One of the best ways to take action is to spread the word! Educators, there are a ton of resources over on the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) site to assist you in your classroom—like the Forest Facts page, for example.
The Creative Commons is embedded into our responsible education ethos; we have researched and aggregated content to create educational resources because we believe that accessibility leads to accountability. Of course knowledge is power, but without access to knowledge we will not move forward.
In 2009 we brought you“[Lesson 1] Sifting through the ‘Ecofashion’ Lexicon”and our “Fibre Analysis”. In 2010 we worked further to bringing you lessons on the social, cultural, economic and environmental interdisciplinary challenges facing the value system that is the global apparel supply chain.