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Profession / role:
Co-founder/Director
Company / organisation:
GlobalNet21 (21st Century Network)
Website (if you have one):
http://www.globalnet21.org/
My primary role in relation to fashion is:
Other
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About me / About business or organisation:
I am currently researching Ethical Fashion for a GlobalNet21 Event to be held in August 2010.

GlobalNet21 (21st Century Network) started in 2007 through the internet Meetup Site to encourage people to meet together to discuss some of the great issues of the 21st century and then follow this up with further debate and action. It was about enlarging the Public Square where debate takes place and using social networks to bring new audiences of people into that debate. During that time the network has expanded rapidly and our activities have developed further. The purpose is to expand public engagement between citizens as well as corporations, government and NGOs where there is a common concern for the sustainability of both our planet and the people on it.


We have held many meetings (some in The House of Commons) covering issues such as Climate Change,Fair Trade, Human Rights, Social Business, Conflict and Security and have often started up groups around these issues to pursue social action. We have also held meetings on Leadership & Trust, Vulnerable Communities, Child Trafficking, homelessness and much more. You can visit our events site at http://www.meetup.com/21stCenturyNetwork/ and find out more. We already have over 2,500 members on the meetup site and over 1,000 friends on Myspace, 1700 members on linkedin as well as a presence on Facebook and Twitter
Career history / Company history:
I have a 20 year background in social, community and psychiatric care and have extensive experience/knowledge of working with people with learning disabilities, the elderly and those that present challenging behaviour.I have worked with vulnerable communities and have long been an active advocate for their rights.I understand the legal system that underpins care and has great knowledge about “infringement of rights” I have also been an active trade unionist. As the first to join GlobalNet21 (21st Century Network) I became the co-founder/director and work on developing programs also the social action/education leading up to and following events.

'' Christina has been instrumental in developing the social action groups that have emerged out of the issues discussed at GlobalNet21( 21st Century Network) events. Christina has also been an accomplished and active influence in developing the structure of GlobalNet21. She has a great interest in psychology generally and industrial psychology in particular and the patterns of collective behaviour that can cause destructive environments''.

Wardrobe undressed: Why the fashion industry needs to change

Since 2009, the London Fashion Week features its eco and sustainability cat walk initiative Esthetica. Ethical and sustainable fashion is, much akin to organic food 20 years ago, a development that is spreading slowly but irreversibly across an industry that boasts an environmental impact second only to agriculture. With this is mind, the present article is the first in our new series that explores Sustainable/Ethical Fashion.

By: Pamela Ravasio, @PamelaRavasio, Managing Editor GlobalNet21 Blog.

My wardrobe is probably not very typical for a woman, certainly not for one in her mid 30s: with two dozen t-shirts at its core, and only 3 pair of jeans, it boasts more outdoor gear than city-fit outfits. This rather mediocre list is rounded off by some winter jackets, a small selection of household textiles, and – due to a unexplainable fascination – a fairly large collection of ethnic fabric samples I have brought home from my numerous travels around the globe.

The amount of clothing I own may be minimal by some standards, or plainly ridiculous by others – the footprint these clothes made until they came to form part of my humble selection, however, is rather not. Most of what I own is made of cotton – I’m allergic to man-made fibres – , and mind you, organic cotton was not a buzzword yet in the days when those t-shirts and jeans came to life.

My average t-shirt weighs about 200 grams. But that’s only the physical weight I carry once the garment lies snug on my body.
Each t-shirt I own, required 2000 liters, or more, of clean water and about 150 grams of pesticide only to grow the cotton it is made of. Making each of my t-shirts, dying it, and having it shipped to the UK, adds another 1.5 kilos of mostly harmful chemicals, as well as a carbon footprint of 6.5 kilos to the total. With my buying decision though, the havoc I’m responsible for is by far not over yet: About 75% of the energy involved with the making and life of a piece of apparel, t-shirt in my case, is related to the laundering; some 25% of the dye – mostly heavy metals based colours – will be washed out over its lifetime, and be flushed “down the drains” together with the best-possible but still not exactly ecologic washing detergent. And in the end, all that remains to be done with my much loved t-shirt, is to add it to the together with other discarded items such as plastic wrappings, pots, pans, bed mattresses, to the top of the rubbish pit.

The story of my t-shirt is, of course, not an exception, but sadly the rule. It is an open secret that fashion – across the whole of its production processes – uses more water than any industry other than agriculture. At least 8′000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles and 25% of the world’s pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton. The side effects are, quite logically, irreversible damage to people and the environment, and yet: two thirds of a garment’s carbon footprint will only occur after it is purchased.

In the UK, a total of 2.266 million tonnes of textiles is consumed each year. Taking into account the amount of clothing reused (206′000 tonnes) – the amount of textiles added to the rubbish pit each year totals to 2.60 million tonnes. That is the equivalent of 22′000 average sized male elephants!

The globe, its climate, diversity and people are therefore substantially affected by the way we dress – far beyond high street magazines, fashion shows and trade fairs. Not even logging, mining, and oil extraction does and did have such a profound impact on the planet – and neither on us.

Each of our buying decisions – whether it’s Louis Vuitton or Primark – has a direct, measurable, traceable impact on the planet we leave to our children and grand-children. Each piece of garment we decide to buy influences not only how the garments are designed (think: off cuts and cutting waste), but also the type of fibre grown next season, whether it will be organic or not, and how the garments will be produced, shipped, and finally discarded.

The truth is that fashion is considerable more than just a ‘groovy’ club of VIPs only focused on colours, cuts, designs and pretty, but altered photographs of hungry girls. It is an industry that arches from agriculture, over design, manufacturing, transportation, to marketing, advertising, waste management and recycling. Quite a surprise, considering that we’re only talking of clothes!

If we talk fashion, fibres, fabrics, clothing, we have no choice but to also talk about

*

environmental damage and pollution such as excessive monocultures, deforestation, ground water draining and poisoning
*

human-rights breaches such as child-labour and slave labour
*

carbon footprints and therefore global warming and climate change
*

waste, be it toxic waste, non-recyclable, non-biodegradable goods or diminishing space in land fills
*

social phenomena such as fashion bullying, consumerism and eating disorders.

Fashion is a very fascinating industry. No single one industry, other than food, encompasses an equal range of specialities, from agriculture over design, transport to waste management. Fashion only, though, fulfils both, a basic need, clothing in this case, and our natural instinct for grooming and beauty. This is the reason why it is so important to turn Fashion into a sustainable industry. Organic cotton and ‘No Sweat’! campaigns are only the seeds of the change we really need.

Next time when you buy cheap, spend a brief moment thinking of the children that have carried the water for your garment over miles, and still have to make another trip to fetch their own drinking water. Or for the Chinese teenagers that have sewn them while on shift for 15 or even 20 hours at one time, while using laundry pins to prevent their eyes from closing and themselves from falling asleep at work.

Love these kids, as you do the jazzy colours and cuts of your wardrobe. When you buy your next set of spring clothes – appreciate the new designs and garments as much as the efforts that have gone into making them.

By all means, rely on your conscience when deciding what to buy

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If anyone is interested in contributing articles to our blog around Ethical Fashion then do please contact me cw@globalnet.org

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