Revolutionizing the Fashion Industry – Plastic Free North Devon
I was honored on behalf of PFND to be asked to sit down with producer Becky Hunter as part of her Fashion Re-Imagined premiere screening at Scott Cinemas in Barnstaple, hosted by activist, surfer and ‘rise fierce’ founder, Sophie Hellyer
Becky invited us to represent the work we do with our growing network of repair cafes in North Devon. A local solution for our communities that not only recycles and repairs clothes, electricals and bicycles, but provides an intergenerational mingling space where you can enjoy a warm space, tea and cake,
The film itself follows the journey of fashion designer Amy Powney on her quest to make the high-end brand “Mother of Pearl” sustainable right in the supply chain. Her journey is guided by an unwavering passion for revolutionizing the fashion industry. She was considered a renegade at the time of filming.
“There is no playbook on how to make a brand sustainable, but I wanted to know from start to finish where our product was grown or derived, who made it and what the social impact was. I traveled to find the best factories, suppliers and farmers who care about the planet and its people as much as we do.” – Amy Powney
To me, the best thing about this film, and indeed any environmental filmmaking, is that it builds knowledge that ultimately allows us to make more informed decisions about how we participate in our beautiful, mostly blue, world.
Director Becky uses Amy’s journey to highlight how difficult it is to make change in the supply chain and the speed with which WE as citizens of the planet, not just consumers, need to change our habits.
But for change to happen at the speed needed, the entire fashion industry needs to transform its current model and give its customers the opportunity to buy products that are good for the planet and good for humanity.
Fast Fashion – The Negative
Cheap synthetic materials such as polyester derived from fossil fuels are phenomenally cheap to produce. These release microplastics into our environment when we wash and wear them.
Did you know that a shocking 35 percent of all microplastics come from textiles AND have even become part of our food chain?
Worryingly, manufacturing not only supports the fossil fuel industry, but also contributes to global warming on a massive scale. Did you know that the fashion industry produces about 10 percent of annual global carbon emissions, which is more than all of the shipping and international flights combined… (wtf!) And… fashion’s harmful greenhouse gas emissions are projected to increase by more than 50 percent by 2030.
Ultimately, we need to reduce our consumption rate, not simply replace one product with another “greener” product, which leads nicely to the topic of greenwashing…
Greenwashing – what is it?
Misleading or deceptive publicity disseminated by an organization to present an environmentally responsible public image.
The vast majority of us can’t afford Mother of Pearl clothing, so what are the alternatives to no-nonsense shopping?
While there are some great sustainable fashion brands and resources out there (I’ve linked some below), there are many mainstream and other brands that sell us on their “sustainable” lines.
More often than not, these big retailers divert our view to a very small part of their business for good PR so they can continue to mass produce unethically and unsustainably.
We advocate upcycling and repairing your clothes as a first option, then we try to buy second hand where possible, before carefully choosing brands that are sustainable.
Film director and editor Becky taught us to ask ourselves the following three questions before making a purchase:
Do I really need it? Can I really love it? Will I wear it for years to come?
The second hand clothing industry is set to overtake the fast fashion industry by 2023 with sites like Vinted and Depop.
While many of the facts were very scary, the film also gave us hope that fashion CAN be reshaped and we all have a part to play. Every time you spend money, you are voting for the world you want to see.
Repair Cafes in North Devon
We now operate four Repair Cafes across North Devon. So far we have them in Ilfracombe, Braunton, Barnstaple, Landkey and soon in South Molton and Combe Martin. Other community groups also run regular repair cafes in High Bickington and Atherington and Bideford.
The cafes aim to reduce waste by helping people repair things that might otherwise be thrown away, support people in a cost of living crisis (donations are welcome but there is no pressure or expectation) and create a diverse and intergenerational community centre. It also aims to teach people new skills that they can take home and share.