I love clothes, last weekend I dipped into Primark with a little sense off guilt. All around me were clothes piled high at prices that you simply cannot ignore – I know how much time and effort goes into making a t-shirt, so buying one for £2?
Everyone’s perception is distorted by the low prices of items – everything is made so cheaply that we have begun to perceive these as throwaway items. Why repair a microwave when you can purchase another for less than £30? Why bother storing your clothes from one season to another when you can buy new every season for less than the price of the weekly shop.
Sewing machines made today don’t have the staying power that machines did years ago – a friend of mine ‘wears her machine out’ in a year and happily buys a new one.
I have greatly reduced my clothes buying, even those from charity shops, I just am feeling a little sickened by the sheer wastefulness. Have a look at this lovely film – it really does show the scale of the problem. It is about the workers in India that deal with our discarded clothes. They think we throw clothes away hardly worn because we cannot afford to wash them!
Our sense of value is being distorted in such a way that craftspeople and artisans are no longer valued for the work they do. We believe that a t-shirt should cost £2 without even considering how it is made or where the cotton comes from. Or the true cost of the lives who are paid low wages so that we can have it all cheap.
The world is getting smaller, we are recognising that we can no longer distance ourselves what is happening in China and Asia will affect us one way or another. China is paid in dollar bonds they hold enough to bankrupt America if they called those in, and yet we and the Americans get more and more dependent on China for goods.
How much longer can we sustain this balance? We don’t make things in the Uk anymore, so where are our wages going to be coming from in the future? What do we as a country offer the world? Could we ever be self sufficient? We have lost all our skilled labour – generations ago.
But there are things we can do, April 24th is a day we can all do something simple, have a look here. Its in memory of the factory disaster two years ago, when a building collapsed killing thousands of workers.
You don’t have to pay anything, you don’t have to go anywhere, just use your voice to join others in asking for sustainable, fair clothing.
We might just be one voice, but together we can help to change things.