Fashion and Beauty Need a Place on the Climate Change Agenda

People's Climate March, Sept. 21, 2014
People’s Climate March, Sept. 21, 2014
\r\n\r\nDid you know that most of the clothing we wear–and especially “fast fashion”–is made in China, where the pollution regulations aren’t as strict as in the U.S.?  Did you know that some of those dyes that make all those day-glo shoes and tops and such are toxic to the environment?  Did you know that even the manufacturers of “space age” and new, shiny fabrics have no idea the environmental impact of those fabrics?  They do not even know if the fabrics are recyclable, or, if they are, what to make with them.  And, did you know that some of the ingredients in perfumes, body lotions, and cosmetics are grown only in certain regions in France, Mexico, and other countries that are now adversely impacted by Climate Change??\r\n\r\nAll of the above is true.  Over the past three years, as I’ve delved into the fashion and beauty industries, I’ve discovered things that have baffled and frightened me with regard to how the fashion and beauty industries create havoc with the environment.  It seems that many of us are starting to view fashion and beauty the way we view meat in our grocery stores:  we don’t want to know where it came from, we just want it to taste good and cost little.  We forget that not all fabrics are grown in a lab.  Even the ones that are, like rayon, start with, well, trees of all things.  We forget that some natural beauty ingredients that are good for our skins, like aloe and shea butter, are sometimes cut with dimethicone, which does nothing to help skin, and might actually stop skin from doing what it’s supposed to do.\r\n\r\nYesterday was the start of Climate Week NYC, and tomorrow, September 23, the United Nations will host the UN Climate Summit 2014.  Whether or not representatives of the Fashion and Beauty industries will be there, well, I don’t know.  What I do know is that we consumers need to understand what’s going on in the fashion and beauty industries.  We need to understand that the beginning of the supply chain for making a lipstick or a dress starts at a farm, somewhere, with raw materials that are part of our earth.  How these materials are processed, who processes them, and how they reach us is a Big Deal and has a HUGE impact on the environment, perhaps not in the best of ways.\r\n\r\nWe can change our attitudes and our purchasing choices–but first we have to know what’s going on.  We need to be informed.  In the past, I’ve written a few pieces on environmental damage in China, horrendous labor practices in Bangladesh, and Greenpeace’s efforts to “detox” fashion.  Starting today, you will see more stories on the environmental impact of fashion and beauty,  as well as more information on fair (or un-fair)  labor practices, supply chain cost drivers, and other aspects of those industries that we need to know.   History of both fashion and beauty–knowing how things used to be in grandmother’s days–might also help us understand where and how these industries have changed.  To be informed is, perhaps, the best way to begin to change an industry and, subsequently, improve our world.\r\n

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