Government’s ‘No’ to Sustainable Fashion Signals Radical Social Change

Parliament has failed us, now it’s time to build the vision of fashion we want ourselves

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 industry contributors to climate change). Ministers rejected EVERY SINGLE RECOMMENDATION made by Fixing Fast Fashion Report: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability.

Conducted by the Environmental Audit Committee, the report cites startling truths on overconsumption including that, come 2050, almost three planets will be required 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 report evidences 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. It also promotes 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. Producers must slow down and stop producing. A move, of course, that requires legislation and policy change enforceable by the government.

Parliament’s refusal to legislate towards positive cultural and environmental change confirms the uncertainty of the period we’re in. It is also a crucial turning point in history for us to 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.

This rejection certifies loud and clear that the government as an institution is not fit for service in a just and equal society that people are calling for. This indifference illuminates the institution’s archaic, rigid structure as obsolete in times where people are demanding more and better for our lives.

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.

This inaction serves as a mirror reflecting back to us where our collective power has long been absorbed in this out-of-touch institution – sustaining 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. Stepping forward, we must channel angst into action and 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 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?

Money and technology. Whilst these commonly evoke cautious reactions, a paradigm shift from defensiveness to opportunity thinking could be the answer to reshaping fashion.

Embracing our capital power in a consumer-led society, we can initiate change through the way we spend. Money, regardless of how much we think we have, is a form of power, and reframing the act of spending and consumption is a positive force. 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 dissolve.

“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 traditional lawmakers and into the hands of the app-makers. Instant communication allows for global awareness-raising, birthing ‘clicktivism’ – the means through which anti-Trump protest marches were organised 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.

Searching for solutions to fast fashion, legislation, education, media, brands and consumers all entwine in a messy and complex web of a globalised landscape. 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

What Does Feminism Mean Today?

Over centuries feminism’s presence in popular culture has been contested. Amidst a great shift in a how the movement exists in mainstream media, what do popular portrayals of feminism mean for women’s experiences of liberation today?

Holly Charlotte Campbell hosts a free interactive discussion and feedback group to inspire critical and collaborative thinking on feminism today.

Your voice, opinion and experiences are important. This is a comfortable, constructive and respectiful space for you to share your thoughts and receive valuable takeaways to inspire your own projects, career aspirations and academic work.

ProjectFEM’s next event is open to UAL students only.

Limited spaces available, please secure your space here: https://bit.ly/2RraZT7

10th October 2018

5:30-6:30pm

Free tickets: https://bit.ly/2RraZT7

Room: T1003

London College of Communication

Elephant & Castle
London
SE1 6SB

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How To Vote Towards Gender Equality on June 8th

Originally published by Grazia here.

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:

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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.

Author: Holly Charlotte Campbell