The Government’s Rejection of Sustainable Fashion is a Catalyst for Radical Social Change

Parliament has failed us, now it’s time to build the vision of fashion we want without them

This week the biggest ever inquiry into the UK fashion industry was tabled by Parliament. Presenting wide-ranging and key recommendations for policies and legislation to end fast fashion (one of the world’s biggest contributors to climate change), Ministers rejected EVERY SINGLE RECOMMENDATION made by Fixing Fast Fashion Report: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability.

Conducted by the cross-parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, the report cites startling truths on overconsumption including that, come 2050, we’ll require almost three planets to resource current lifestyles.

The government’s passivity of the urgency for change has sent shockwaves through the public, environmental activists and fashion designers. Ministers’ rejection of the report’s direct and tangible solutions to the fashion industry’s prolonged damage to the environment is especially startling as just last month, Parliament declared a state of climate emergency.

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The Fixing Fast Fashion Report evidences the urgent need for fast-acting, top-level action to tackle the current system’s environmental destruction and to clean up dire working conditions. Its recommendations to appease throwaway culture include a 1p garment tax and also promote a sociocultural shift by encouraging clothing design and mending lessons in schools and tax incentives for repair services.

The facts are unavoidable and they are sinister. It’s critical that prompt action is taken to regulate fashion’s contribution to climate damage. The immediate solution to the crisis is clear. Producers must slow down and stop producing. A move, of course, that requires legislation and policy change enforceable by the government.

Whilst Parliament’s refusal to legislate towards positive cultural and environmental change confirms that we’re in turbulent and uncertain times, we must recognise this as a crucial turning point in history in which we can reclaim our power and devise empowering new alternatives.

“By 2050 the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles” says the UN.

Unwittingly, Minister’s rejection of the report’s recommendation certifies loud and clear that the government as an institution is not fit for functioning in the vision of a just, equal and quality society that the public wants. In their indifference to sustainable fashion, Ministers have signified their own demise. Their passivity declares UK Parliament as ignorant and outdated. It illuminates the institution’s archaic, rigid structure as obsolete in times that we’re demanding more and better from our lives. We are bigger, brighter and more deserving than what the institution can, and is willing to, offer us.

Supported by critical movements like the Women’s March and Extinction Rebellion, we are shaping new parameters for the world we want to live in. That requires models founded on agility, adaptability, responsiveness and compassion – AKA antonyms for the current state of UK Parliament. As a society that wants more, we are outgrowing the function that this government can serve.

Parliament has once again failed its citizens, but this inaction serves as a mirror reflecting back to us where our collective power has long been absorbed in its out-of-touch institution. In its sustaining of class difference, healthcare cuts and social divisions whilst funding £80,000 salaries for its MPS.

Beating on Parliament’s door is not working because Ministers and MPs don’t want to hear us. So, stepping forward, we must channel our shock into action and reclaim our power as we continue to create the vision of the future we want. No one person can take on the entire epidemic of climate change, but we must recognise our responsibility to do our bit, wise-up, recognise our own power and act on it.

That requires a considerable perspective shift, redefining where our power lies and initiating new solutions – solutions that do not rely on the never-ending treadmill of winning the attention of unconcerned Ministers and MPs. It means focusing on the mass empowerment and emancipation of the UK’s citizens by recognising that the power is with us, not them.

Sans government, how can we step forward with determination and resolve to create positive, radical social and cultural change?

Two solutions immediately available to us are money and technology. Whilst both ideas commonly evoke cautious reactions, a paradigm shift from defensiveness to opportunity thinking could be the answer to reshaping fast fashion.

Embracing our capital power in a consumer-led society, we can initiate change through the way we spend. Money, no matter what amount we have, is power, and reframing the act of spending and consumption into a positive force could be the radical shift needed. Every pound we spend is a choice that creates the world we want to live in. Becoming conscious of this, we can cut off the power supply of fashion’s worst offenders forcing brands to either adapt to our demand or die.

“Every time you spend money you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” says Anna Lappe

In addition, at the rate of technological advancements, dominant power is moving from the hands of the lawmakers to the hands of the app-makers. Instantaneous communication has allowed global awareness-raising, birthing ‘clicktivism’ and making it possible for anti-Trump protest marches to take place simultaneously across the world. It allows for global networking and faster inspiration, creativity and creation for problem-solving through inventions, knowledge and environmental solutions.

There is no steadfast answer to the fast fashion epidemic. In a globalised culture, the law, education, media, brands and consumers all intermingle in a messy and complex web. What we do know is that the government is continuing to fail us as citizens and its unwillingness to fix fashion could be the catalyst needed to spur a radical paradigm and culture shift.

 

Author: Holly C. Campbell

Holly-Campbell@live.co.uk

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How To Vote Towards Gender Equality on June 8th

Author: Holly Campbell

The state of politics in the world today can seem, at best, murky. It can be difficult to know who to trust or which party really upholds women’s interests. With the government calling on us to vote again on 8th June, we need to make some sense of the chaos and quick.

So, where do we start? Last month, Theresa May announced a shock snap election (despite promising to not hold one until 2020), in which she was debatably driven by her parties’ lead over Labour. An election win would enable the Tories to more easily pass their favoured Brexit related legislation. The announcement provoked calls for ‘progressive voting’, with the Green party tactically pulling out of crucial election seats to help Labour topple the Tories. This is in the context of the UK’s unrepresentative first-past-the-post electoral system, where the number of votes cast for a party does not determine the number of seats they will win in parliament. No wonder many of us are suffering from ‘world-whelm’! It’s enough to disaffect us from politics altogether, which is what we saw with the sense of ‘Bregret’ from voters who cast a protest ‘leave’ vote in the EU referendum but regretted it once the economic reality had set in.  If there is one thing we have learnt from the UK’s political turmoil, it’s how powerful your vote actually is. As 2018 marks 100 years since women were granted the right to vote and with women’s rights at the forefront of activism today, we must recognise that every vote makes a difference. It is important now more than ever to make the right decision towards gender equality on June 8th.

Amongst this political pandemonium, here are 3 ways that you can vote towards gender equality in the upcoming election:

  1. Vote for a party who show that they are actively challenging issues that affect women. This is how the main parties have voted on women-related policies:
Conservatives LibDems Labour Green
Abortion
Independent support for women seeking abortion – counselling services, guidance etc. (07/09/2011) Against Against Against Against
Decriminalising Abortion for up to 24 weeks gestation (13/03/2017) Against For For For
Sex selective abortion made illegal (23/02/2017)  For For For For
Domestic Violence
Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification) Bill (24/02/2017) For For For Not present (Copeland by-election results on same day)
Finance/Tampon Tax
Increasing min. wage to £8 (15/10/2014)  

(Women are more likely to work part-time than men and therefore be paid less than the min. wage than jobs held by men)

Against Against For Did not vote
Cost of Living (26/10/2014) incl. more free childcare for working parents, higher min. wage Against Against For For
Finance Bill (included abolishing the Tampon Tax) (26/10/2015) Against Against For For
Equal pay transparency (14/12/2016)  For For For For
Tax and Benefits – Gender Equality Strategy to Improve Position of Women (14/12/2016) Against For For For
Poverty
Reducing Dependency on Food Banks (17/12/2014) (1 in 5 parents struggling to feed children) Against Against For For
Ending Rough Sleeping (14/12/2016)  Against For For Did not vote
Pension
Equal pension age for men and women – delaying some women reaching state pension age from 60 to 65 (18/10/2011)  Against Against For For
Transitional arrangements for women adversely affected by state pension age increase (24/02/2016)  Against For For For
Slow increase in state pension age for women (30/11/2016) Against For For For
Political Action
Authorising Demonstrations in designated areas (07/02/2005) Inc. demonstrations for women’s issues i.e. Women’s March 2017 Against Against For No seat
Reduction of Voting Age (20/07/2016)  Against For For For
Gender/Sexuality
Equality Act – defining discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation (19/03/2007) Against For For Not present
Same Sex Couples to Marry (21/05/2013) Against For For For
Education
Abolishing tuition fees (14/09/2004)  Against Against For No seat
Scrap higher education student grants for loans (19/01/2016)  For Against Against Against
Environment
Control of Ozone-depleting Substances (11/03/2009)  Against For For No seat
Environmental protection following EU removal (12/07/2016)  Against For For For

2. Vote for a female MP, regardless of party, in support of gaining more female representatives in parliament. This could work towards equalising the disproportionate amount of men currently upholding seats. Here is how the gender imbalance in parliament looks at present:

Source: http://www.womensequality.org.uk/why-we

However, whilst a representative proportion of women in parliament may constitute equality this does not necessarily mean that those women will vote in favour (or at all) of women-specific legislation. For example, Theresa May did not vote for equal pay transparency, whereas Jeremy Corbyn voted in favour of this policy.

3. Vote for your local Women’s Equality (WE) party MP. Founded in 2015, WE do not yet have a seat in parliament, but have achieved fledgling success by gaining over 350,000 votes across 4 areas in their 2016 election campaign. There are 7 WE MPs standing in the 2017 election, a party founded on the principles of equality with objectives on ending violence against women and equalizing opportunities, representation and education. Find out more about WE here.

Ultimately, how you vote is your choice and there are multiple ways that you can use the upcoming election to vote towards gender equality. Whichever route you think most effective, between tactically toppling the Tories or backing your local female or WE MP, don’t let the bewildering landscape of British politics deter you from having your say, use your vote on June 8th.