Four or five years ago my oldest daughter saw a documentary on TV showing young boys, the same age as her little brother, working long hours sewing sequins on clothes. These clothes were then sold in one of the discount chain stores in our town. It was upsetting and we gathered up all the clothes that we had bought from that store and gave them all to charity. I have tried to buy at least some ethical clothes since then, but it is difficult. Does anyone know where I can find fair-trade school trousers for instance?
Transition Town Totnes have produced a LocalEconomic blueprint for their town, which really explains the importance of buying local and keeping money and jobs in the local community. The main output of Loughborough used to be hosiery and garment making, but it has all gone now. I will hunt around and see what locally made clothing I can find. Meanwhile I have a plan to make the hand-me-down clothes more appealing. Firstly I will make sure I wash everything before I even show it to the kids. That way, the clothes won’t smell differently, or of other people. Next I will do some measuring against existing clothes, so I know what is likely to fit and what should be put away until later. My kids get fed up of trying things on quite quickly, so this may save some rejections. Thirdly I will make more effort to repair and make good any items that I can, and even re-use material to make something else.
I realise now that it would have been helpful if I could have tracked where all my stuff came from. This is because everything that is made outside the UK is never included as part of the UK’s carbon emissions. When we talk of China’s emissions rising, a large part of that is down to producing products for people in other countries. Our government sees it as China’s problem and takes no responsibility for the overseas coal-fired power stations that provide the energy for the goods that we ultimately consume. (You could also say the same about worker conditions and ethics, which are also out of sight and out of mind!)