Steve Allen, the early breakfast LBC radio presenter, much loved by an army of elderly British citizens delights in telling them that he wears an entirely new pair of underpants every day (Marks & Spencer) and an entirely new pair of socks every day as well. He must clean out his local Marks & Spencer store every month or perhaps every fortnight and the staff there must know him very well. No doubt they smile at each other as he approaches but they shouldn’t be smiling because Steve Allen’s behaviour damages the environment which is a topic he never addresses. Oh, and he has 7 vacuum cleaners, two in boxes unused. He buys everything in pairs unless it is underpants and socks which he buys in bundles.
This is relevant today, at this moment, because two out of three people want the fashion industry to slow down and focus more on clothes that last a long time in order to reduce the 300,000 tons of garments burned or buried in the UK every year. This is not to mention the many thousands of tonnes of clothes that are shipped abroad to be buried elsewhere. Anything to get them off the island.
The fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined. And Steve Allen contributes to this in a completely unashamed way. He completely disregards the fact that he is promoting an irresponsible attitude to clothes purchases. And believe me, he is a massive purchaser. He is addicted to consumerism and he is not shy about proclaiming it to the world on his programme. I would suggest that he has mental health problems as he seeks therapy through retail consumerism.
The fashion industry produces 10% of all of humanity’s carbon emissions. It pollutes the oceans with microplastics. Microplastics are in every part of the oceans. There’s millions of tonnes of it swirling around in every square cubic metre of the great oceans. These come from polyester garments which shed microplastics in washes. There are calls on putting filters on washing machines to stop microplastics washing into the sea. P.S. microfibres from non-plastic garments such jeans also pollute massively.
The fashion industry is also the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. Steve Allen’s burning desire to wear a brand spanking new set of underpants every day is contributing to this catastrophe. Online retailers such as boohoo.com which has been so praised in the media are also contributing massively to this environmental damage. They sell clothes which are very cheap. This encourages young people in particular to wear them for a short time then throw them away.
It is time that manufacturers and retailers sold high quality clothes at a reasonable price. They should call them “Lifetime Clothes”. They should be intended to last nearly a lifetime. A group of MPs commissioned the survey to try and find ways of making the fashion industry more sustainable. They found that one third of young people felt under pressure to buy new clothes constantly.
Fast fashion such as supplied by the above-mentioned Internet retailer fuels wasteful habits. They sell dresses online for as little as £5. The British are profligate consumers buying more new clothes than any other European.
There needs to be an increase in fabric recycling and research into greener products. Above all they should be manufactured to a high standard providing value for money in long lasting clothes. There should be clearer labelling about sustainability of clothes. Women are more likely to agree that they will be happy for the fashion industry to change so that clothes were of a high quality and more expensive but reasonably so. Sixty-nine percent of women and 62% of men agreed that the fashion industry should “slow down”. The business must change to meet with modern day requirements of sustainability.
Some companies have changed. Gucci has cut fashion shows from 5 to 2 each year. I don’t think that is a huge and important step towards sustainability but it is something. Above all Mr Steve Allen needs to change his habits and stop being addicted to brand-new underpants!
What has this got to do with the animals-to-human relationship? Well it’s got everything to do with the environment and if humans destroy the environment bit by bit over centuries then the species become extinct because the planet becomes uninhabitable for certain species. In essence this sort of profligate behaviour regarding the purchase of clothes contributes to the destruction of the planet which sustains us. At root it is about our relationship with nature and in nature there are billions of animals.