Most of the retail clothing for sale in New Zealand has been made with little respect for the environment, the community they are made in or for the people who make them.
Thankfully, there are two things that we can do to make a real difference:
- Buy New Zealand made and ethically-made fashion when we buy things new.
When we buy new we need to choose fairtrade, choose local, and choose organic. We also need to be less disposable – we need to invest in key pieces of clothing that will last more than a couple of spins in the washer.
- Reuse and recycle our clothes as much as possible.
The Big Shwop is all about making the most of what we already have. When we can’t afford to buy new clothes responsibly, than let’s not buy new clothes! Get quality clothes second-hand. That’s where The Big Shwop fits in.
So many of us have wardrobes brimming with clothes that are desperate to be shwopped. You might be something you bought and then never wore. Perhaps you have worn it, but it still looks mint. Perhaps you have some impulse buys or some sale purchases that just weren’t ‘you.’ Perhaps it doesn’t fit properly anymore. For whatever reason, all of these clothes must be shwopped. Be brave! If you aren’t wearing some cool items that are in your wardrobe, let someone else enjoy them!
Shwopping is a sustainable way to shop. We believe that there are many ways that we can look really good and be kind to the earth too.
The hard facts of fashion
Too many of us buy a piece of clothing without thinking about where it has come from and how it has been made. Very simply, if a garment is made in a developing country, and isn’t fair-trade (or have some serious ethical credentials), than the world has done a whole lot of hurting to make it for you to wear. Here are some brutal facts:
- after food, clothing has the second highest environmental impact of all consumption activities.
- the cotton industry uses huge amounts of pesticides which wreck havoc on the local community and the land. The WHO estimates 20,000 deaths happen per year as a result of cotton workers breathing in pesticides. One single tee uses 1.5kg of pesticides in its production.
- Trade rules rob poor people of a way of living and keep them in poverty. The relationship is rigged. Check out an interactive diagram here that explains free trade.
- If it is cheap for you to buy than it was dirt cheap to make. Which means that the workers who slaved over your latest purchase were earning nothing. Do you really want a pair of jeans that a 13 year old sewed at midnight?
- And then to top it all off, we are far too happy to throw things away when we are done with them – some 700,000 tonnes of landfill a year in the UK alone is made up of unwanted clothes.
If we could see the history and lifespan of each garment than we wouldn’t be so flippant in our fashion choices. We need to be more conscious of the true price of fashion.
So thats why we do what we do. We reckon if we were all just a bit more aware of what most chain stores represent than we can make savvy consumer choices that are cool for us and the world.