Flashing back to 2006
Guest Editor Katharine Hamnett
New Consumer Magazine

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How we consume decides the future of our planet: e.g in the 1980s when it was discovered that CFC’s in aerosols were creating a hole in ozone layer, companies said they would phase the products out over two years, but consumers stopped buying them and the manufacturers were forced to come up with an environmental substitute immediately or go out of business.

By putting pressure on industry through our purchasing choices and boycotts we have more power to effect change as consumer than we do as voters. Industry listens to consumers even if governments don’t but the only pressure that governments respond to is something that curtails their ability to invest or sell.

Pesticides from conventional cotton agriculture cause 20,000 deaths per year from accidental poisonings [World Health Organisation figures based on hospital admissions and one] and one 1,000,000 long-term acute poisonings per year. Pesticide Action Network estimates the real figures are much higher: upwards of a million deaths and three million long term poisonings and 200,000 suicides amongst farmers per year due to debt for pesticides.

There is no excuse for any absence of ethical and environmental clothing in the mainstream. The fibre [of organic cotton] is identical [to conventional cotton], it is neither brown nor lumpy and it doesn’t need to be anymore expensive.

Typically the value to the farmer of the cotton in a t-shirt is 4-5 per cent of its retail value, if the farmer is paid 20 per cent more for his cotton it would only add 1 per cent to the price of a t-shirt. Surely 1 per cent more is not much to pay to deliver 400 million people out of poverty.

New Consumer; The UK’s fair trade and ethical lifestyle magazine.
Guest Editor Katharine Hamnett.
September/October 2006
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