Since the last few years buying new clothes always put me in a moral dilemma. Specially after the Rana Plaza drama in Dhaka on 24th april 2013, leading to 1127 casualty, that revealed the precarious working conditions and unethical practices involving big multinational brands.
With the concept of seasonal sale, the fashion craze is quickly catching up India, forcing us to constantly fill our cupboards with new clothes. The textile industry also has a big environmental impact that is clearly revealed in videos circulating on social media. Let us take denims for example as a symbol of consumerism era. To manufacture one pair itself requires around 5000 litres of water without counting the amount of pesticides, the dyeing process that destroy water bodies. Add to this the high carbon footprint that comes with cotton being grown in one country, the denim manufactured in another country and the final denim product sold elsewhere. This entire process is very polluting and resource intensive. Since fashion has to always be affordable to attract more consumers, synthetic textile like polyester, acrylic, nylon, rayon are the options for manufacturers. But then these are non-degradable.
Trying to be a responsible consumer I personally would like to stop buying clothes but I am not there yet. The best alternative I found though is to buy second hand clothes, so I don’t feel guilty when i wear them just for a season. I love visiting thrift shops and garage sales when i go to Europe during my summer break. People there are accumulating so much that they need regular opportunity to empty their wardrobe while making few bucks. I grew up being the 4th child in the family I was actually very happy to wear the hand me downs. So wearing clothes worn by somebody else is not an issue for me. And the day my favourite corduroy pant tears, I can always have it upcycled into a lovely hand bag.
As a solution to textile’s high carbon footprint I believe second hand shops and upcycling products have a bright future in India.
About the author:
Claire Rao, who made Bangalore her home more than a decade ago, has been a champion of sustainable living. She firmly believes that every individual should look at the impact his/her lifestyle choices have on the environment and maintaining the ecological balance is the key to good and green living.