The following guest blog post is by Bronwyn Darlington, Sustainable fashion expert & Research Manager at the STAR Lab…
Welcome to WEAR - the next focus of the 1MW SAVE Program, about making saving fashionable too! So let’s get on with it…
I’m Bronwyn Darlington. I’m an ambassador for the 1 million women campaign and I speak around the country on sustainable fashion. I’m also the Research Manager at the STAR Lab* where I focus on the way we use certification schemes (like Fairtrade and organic) and other standards to improve sustainability performance in consumer goods – particularly, textiles and clothing.
There was a clear moment just before Christmas in 2004 as I was shopping for Christmas presents – actually pyjamas for my sons, that I was struck by the fact that I knew more about the sustainability impact of black coal (I was working in the area of sustainability and operational improvement for a super large coal company at the time) than I did about the pressies I was buying or the clothes I was wearing.
This seemed crazy to me. It also struck me as all wrong that the poor who needed so much support and who charities at the front of the department store were collecting for were being so often taken advantage of when making products for me that I really cared so little about.
So, being an Australian woman, I decided to do something about it. That’s what we women do – we just get up and do something about what matters to us. That’s why I support the 1 million women campaign as it is all about doing something – but not just anything, specific and targeted results driven ‘somethings’!
Those thoughts back in 2004 led to a year of exploring how the products we use every day, particularly clothing, could change the world! We all want to change the world, and I thought that in this generation of information and freedom, I … and we…aught to be able to do that with the way we spend our money – the way we make our ‘stuff’.
In 2006, I started a company called ‘Rise Up’. Rise Up was designed to meet the challenges of the new future. The one where we understand that behind every piece of clothing we wear or mug we drink our coffee from is a real person. Someone who labours to grow the cotton for my clothes, to spin the yarn, to dye the fabric, to sew the clothes and ultimately, to dispose of what I don’t want any more. Through Rise Up, I learned about how the process of consumer good manufacture controls global distribution of wealth, the health and safety of workers and, most significantly in this blog, how our choices in what we want to consume (or wear) impacts the environment. I started 3 fashion labels and made promotional products (yep – thousands of Fairtrade Certified organic cotton t shirt and bags) and ran an online and a physical shop. I learned a lot.
Post Rise Up (we called it a day in December, 2009) I’ve been pursuing answers to these challenges which I couldn’t achieve through the business. Again, as an Australian woman with all the opportunities and freedoms I have, I decided to go into research and find out the answers for myself.
During the 1MW SAVE focus on WEAR, I’m going to work our way through the fashion supply chain which means I’ll be blogging about fashion but starting at the very beginning. We’ll go from; design to production to use and then disposal.
I’m going to share a bit of what I learned and I’m hoping you’ll ask me questions as well and this will become a two-way discussion where we can all learn from each other.
We have to understand where things come from to make choices about what we want to be part of and really, what we are going to do ourselves to minimise the impact on this wonderful planet we call home.
Click here to send me questions, OR write them in the comments below, and I’ll do what I can to answer them each week through the Fashion month. If I don’t know, I’ll ask the right people so we will all know!