Bringing London to a standstill, Extinction Rebellion have been demonstrating through peaceful protests across London. Many of the recent demonstrations, focusing on pollution and climate change. On April 12, one group turned their focus to the fast fashion industry, protesting against one of the largest contributors to pollution, across the globe.
Opening the series of protests, Extinction Rebellion organised a vibrant catwalk, through the heart of London’s fashion scene. Blocking the cross roads at Oxford Circus, the group brought Oxford Street to a close, focusing specifically on the environmental impacts of fast fashion, a fitting choice for the chosen location.
Showcasing garments created by sustainable designer, Violet Vega, the models walked down the makeshift catwalk, demonstrating to the public a collection of sustainable, recycled designs, attempting to open the public’s mind, to a world of environmentally friendly fashion, as Violet explains “Everything is made from waste fabrics, it’s all from things that would otherwise go in landfill”.
Facing scrutiny more intensely over the past few years, the fast fashion industry has borne the brunt of climate activist groups. With more people interested in the cause, an increasing demand for the industry to develop a more environmentally friendly process has arisen. Across the globe an estimated 80% of discarded textiles go to landfill or are incinerated. This process heavily contributes to the prominent land and air pollution issues, both dominating factors in the climate crisis.
Over the past fifteen years, the average consumer purchased 60% more garments ,leading to an increase in production. The production process for one kilogram of cotton includes the use of 20,000 litres of water. This process contributing to water pollution, also uses a percentage of the worlds clean water supply, an essential element that is in short supply across developing countries. Miles Corron, an organiser at the Extinction Rebellion event, highlighted the importance of change within the industry. “So much water is used to produce fast fashion materials it’s in short supply as it is, surely they can put it to better use than destroying the planet”.
Of course, Extinction Rebellion only presents for one side of the argument. The fast fashion industry, despite its negative reputation, does contribute a significant number of positives, on a global scale. 80% of the work force for garment production are female, in developing countries, this has provided an element of support and empowerment for these women, both socially and economically. Also employing over 75 million people worldwide, the industry acts as a substantial economic contributor to both developed and developing countries.
While many sympathise with the Extinction Rebellion protestors and the relevant argument they put forward, change must come with a delicate balance in order to nurture the industry to a more sustainable future and maintain the livelihoods of the people within it.