Activists from the Bruit qui court collective, accompanied by Alternatiba Paris and a coalition of 8 associations (1) led an action against fast-fashion and its impacts today at Les Halles in central Paris. To mark Black Friday, they staged an artistic performance to highlight the human rights and environmental abuses caused by the fashion industry. The performance was part of a campaign to call on the French Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, to introduce legislation requiring brands to respect human rights and the environment.
While in Bangladesh, the world's second-largest textile exporter, workers in the in recent weeks against their indecent salaries and were repressed In France, a major coalition has just been launched to call for the regulation of the fashion industry, and fast-fashion chains in particular.
At Les Halles on November 23, the activists put on a performance art show, rhythmically stretching out clothes on clotheslines, with messages such as "Victims of fashion" or "We consume their exploitation", smeared with red and black liquid, symbolizing the human rights abuses and environmental damage associated with the disproportionate production of clothing.
The mobilization spread to several French cities, including Paris and Lyon, as well as Dijon, Rouen and the Drôme region, with a series of poster collages on windows denouncing the environmental and social impacts of Shein, Primark, H&M and Zara.
The coalition calls on citizens to mobilize online to demand that Bruno Le Maire and the government finally act on the social and environmental issues raised by fast-fashion. While this summer he announced his intention to “combat the abuses of fast-fashion”ambitious measures are still pending. It is worth noting that the fashion sector has not been taken into account within the ecological planning which seemed to be the perfect setting to initiate a sustainable transition within a an industry in economic difficulty.
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As Friends of the Earth France explains With 150 billion garments produced worldwide every year, the overproduction of the textile industry has become a climatic and human bomb that needs to be defused as a matter of urgency. Faced with an industry that has become an expert in manufacturing new consumer needs, basing action on individual choice will never be a solution. We call on the government to be truly ambitious by capping the production volumes of fast-fashion chains. To consume less, we must first and foremost produce less. "
" Fast fashion is literally disposable fashion, with no material or emotional value. More and more garments are being put on the market every year, with increasingly short life spans and unenviable end-of-life. Less than 10% of textiles and shoes collected have a second life in France; a large proportion is exported to the other side of the world, where it ends up burnt in open-air or unauthorized landfills; almost a third is shredded to make stuffing or rags; the rest is incinerated. It's time to slow down and propose other models of production and communication. "explains Zero Waste France.
Ten years after the collapse of Rana Plaza, this week of mobilization aims to denounce an increasingly unsustainable textile industry. The sector's growing overproduction is increasingly worsening production conditions, the pollution caused and the waste generated; so much so that the textile sector now accounts for up to 10 % of global greenhouse gas emissions (United Nations Climate Change, 2018), and 26 % in 2050 if the current rate of increase in production volumes continues (Ademe, Fashion from top to bottom, 2022.).
For Fashion Revolution France : "We have produced enough clothes to clothe the planet until 2100. The fashion industry - and it's not the only one - relies on forced labor and child labor. The right to fairly paid work is enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights. Let's ask ourselves what kind of civilization we want! "
150 billion items of clothing are produced every yearin conditions that do not respect human dignity: wages well below the minimum wage, forced labor (or), child laborsixteen-hour days, unpaid overtime…
France Nature Environnement makes it clear: " Overproduction, poor-quality products & hazardous to health, human exploitation... The textile industry is out of control and needs to be regulated as a matter of urgency. In France alone, 700,000 tonnes of clothing are thrown away every year, twice as much as thirty years ago. "
In Bangladesh, for example, where over 4 million workers make clothes for mainly Western brands, the minimum wage in the sector, which has just been raised following historic protests, is 105 euros (12,500 takas), one of the lowest in the world. Yet the living wage in this country is estimated at 497 euros. These violations mainly affect women, who account for 80% of the sector's workforce.
"Currently, women textile workers in Bangladesh earn less than 100 euros a month, which is half what the unions are demanding and half what is needed to live in decent conditions. This is unacceptable! We support their struggle and demand a living wage for these workers. We need to tackle the root causes of the model's abuses: commercial practices and pricing. The workers have no time for half-measures, and we call on the government to take strong measures to finally respect the rights of the people who make our clothes.completes the Max Havelaar France association.
On average, a person consumes 40% more clothing than 20 years ago, and keeps it half as long. Once discarded, these clothes are not always channeled into reuse channels, due to their poor quality. And recycling solutions are not sufficiently efficient and/or developed: less than 1 % of the fibers used to produce clothing is recycled into new garments. At every stage, the environmental impact is major: textile manufacturing releases chemicals into the water, as well as microplastics throughout product use and at end-of-life.
Faced with these alarming facts, the French government has the power and duty to react by forcing brands to profoundly change their practices and those of their subcontractors, all along the value chain. The solution cannot and must not be left to consumers, as the problem is systemic and the brands that reap superprofits have considerable room for maneuver. Only a strong government decision in the form of binding legislation at national level will have a systemic effect that will truly improve workers' living conditions.
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Halte à l'Obsolescence Programmée also alerts : "Fast fashion is a model that runs counter to product life extension and the circular economy. The production of goods at low cost, without respect for human rights, can never be seen as virtuous. It makes us believe that this mode of consumption is possible and viable, and encourages us to buy more and more. But this is simply unsustainable. The accelerated obsolescence of cheap, low-quality textiles must stop. "
(1) Action Aid France, Les Amis de la Terre France, Emmaüs France, Fashion Revolution France, France Nature Environnement, Halte à l'Obsolescence Programmée, Max Havelaar France and Zero Waste France.