Climate Curious: Why what you wear is about more than fashion - TEDxLondon

Climate Curious: Why what you wear is about more than fashion

Episode eight of Climate Curious podcast is now live with our special guest, Baroness Lola Young.

“Just because you pay a lot for something, it doesn’t mean you’re getting a better deal in terms of their trustworthiness around labour issues,” says Baroness Lola Young, an activist, author, crossbench peer in the House of Lords, and Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, widely known for her contribution to creating legislation to eliminate modern slavery, on the latest episode of the Climate Curious podcast by TEDxLondon.

In the final episode of season 1, this pioneering activist breaks down why whether you’re donning Primark or Prada, thanks to hazy supply chains and labour practices, there’s no guarantee as to who made your clothes, and how sustainable they really are.  With 40 million people still in modern slavery today, she urges us to connect the dots between the exploitation of people and planet.

“It’s that intersectional piece whereby all of those different systems of systems of oppression; all of those kinds of ‘isms’, sexism and racism. If you look at the fashion industry, or if you look at modern slavery, or if you look at climate change, the people who are most affected? Well, look around you, who are they?”

Back in 2009, through her work as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords, Lola explains how she worked with Anti-Slavery International to table an amendment which would criminalise domestic servitude and forced labour in Britain. But she’s determined to do more – citing that a shocking 40 million people are still in entrapped in slavery worldwide (source: Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage, International Labour Organization, 2017).

The first step is waking up to the labour behind the label. Step two is to disengage from the fast fashion blame game and to try and make a change with the resources you have, today. A firm opponent of eco-shaming, Lola highlights why it’s both wrong and illogical. Even if you buy expensive clothes, there’s no guarantee as to how they were made and by who. She supports the notion of systemic, collective action by the government to legislate against big business being able to exploit people and planet. 

“The less disposable income you have, the less able you are, potentially, to make a difference in this sector is where it’s corporations, it’s businesses that have got to do the right thing, right? Because it’s in their hands. And if they’re not doing the right thing, the government has to encourage them, incentivise them. And if they still don’t do the right thing, then they have to be penalised.”

Optimistically, to navigate the fickle friend of fashion she recommends simply focussing on how much you wear your garments, regardless of its price, brand, and material. She suggests this is the one thing we can all do to make a difference and make sure our clothes don’t go straight to the landfill in vain.

In this Climate Curious episode, hosted by TEDxLondon’s Maryam Pasha and advocate and activist Ben Hurst, Lola  reveals why it’s not about banning fast fashion – it’s about pressuring governments to make firms smarten up their act to end modern slavery, discover why being more thoughtful about people is the first step to being more thoughtful about consumption, and explore the surprisingly easy thing you can do today to make a difference – simply wear your clothes more!

For this week’s Climate Confessions? Our guests take on shoe addictions, shopping to make yourself feel better (we’ve all been there) and recklessly running the hot tap for no good reason – why not!?

We’ll be back next week with a special bonus episode with Ben and Maryam where they recap the best bits of season 1. Until then, stay curious!

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