Unintended Consequences

Fashion costs – lives and environment. Luckily they aren’t visible to us.

Fast fashion is getting a bad rep, justifiably so, highlighted by films such as River Blue, True Cost, and the work of Fashion Revolution Scotland. Students ‘get’ it, and many have produced work on the need to use organic cotton, to know where your clothes’ materials and dyes come from, and who makes them.

This is again deep stuff, with clear links to our colonial exploitation of countries in the global south. Countries like Bangladesh are focused on making our cheap things, instead of being supported to use their energy and resources in making their countries better places to live and work. Maybe we shouldn’t have fast fashion, and certainly not made in other countries.

BECCS – the idea of mass-growing country-sized forests of mono-culture trees for carbon capture, then burning for fuel is another mad idea. Destroying eco-systems, creating more mega-businesses, profiting from mitigating what they as companies have caused. It’s tinkering with the broken system – let’s solve the problem at source.

We are divorced from the truth of our consumption – the abattoir, the fish dying on trawlers, the mass loss of by-catch, the nets enveloping whales and dolphins, the plastic can connectors suffocating turtles – the Googles are out there if you want the depressing images. We have no knowledge so no emotional connection to these myriad global micro-losses but it is important that we use our skills to connect people to them, and give them alternatives that are better for us and the wider ecology.

Sometimes arguments within this broken system are used to justify consumption – for example the idea that single-use plastic saves food that would otherwise be wasted. Yes, a model has evolved where food is kept for long times on shelves and sub-divided and processed into ever smaller packets to drive up branding and profitability, but wouldn’t it be better to go transition to less-processed food, more primary ingredients and more local food growing and buying?

Pic Credit: Alice McCabe

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