Just getting ready to go the Easter vigil to support my daughter and her boyfriend as he is received into the Catholic church and feeling quite different in my choice of clothes. Having to think about it is yet another thing to think about,I have appreciated the time saved in not having to think about what to wear these last 6 weeks. My family and friends have sponsored me to the tune of £135, which is amazing and I’m over whelmed with the support. A big thank you to all of them. I’m verythankful for the choices I have and this challenge has helped me a little more to be in solidarity with the producers of all our stuff here in the west. I realise I do not need so many clothes, I’ve tried to talk about clothes with different groups of people and I’ve read more about the conditions of the producers. I want to buy more fairly traded clothes in the future and definitely buy less to slow down the fast fashion cycle. I’m sure the lessons learned will continue…
On Good Friday 2013 I am writing my last blog – for this year at least!
Taking part in the 6 items challenge has been a really positive experience. As you will have noticed, I haven’t focussed upon the 6 items I worn, preferring to draw attention to the garment workers and the work of Labour Behind the Label. It has given me an opportunity to think about the garment workers who make many of my clothes and the clothes in the high street stores. I have been reflecting on whether fast fashion is really worth it if the garment workers don’t earn enough to live on and work in really poor conditions. How would I feel if I was one of those workers? I hope that I will think twice when buying new clothes.
If by reading this blog you have been motivated to take part in campaigning for the rights of the workers you may be interested in this:-
On 22nd April, join anti-sweatshop activists from around the world at Footlocker stores across Europe and the US to call on them to drop adidas from their stores until they pay ex-PT Kizone workers the $1.8million they are owed in unpaid severance. This will mark the beginning of a week of action in the UK that will ramp up the pressure on the UK’s biggest retailer of adidas footwear. Actions are already planned across the country and more will be announced soon.
Footlocker represents a key source of profit for Adidas internationally and, as one of Adidas’ biggest retailers, they could play a huge role in getting them to pay up, so we’re demanding they stand up and call on Adidas to ensure these workers are paid what they are owed.
Join the Footlocker International Day of Action on 22nd April, take action another day that week, or if you really love workers, every day that week.
If there isn’t an action already listed then why not organise your own? Find out where your nearest Footlocker store is located, get a group of friends together and take action! Check the Labour behind the Label website for more information.
As far as my personal fundraising is concerned, I am just £15 off my target of £250. I am really grateful for all your support, every penny of which will help the garment workers. If you feel that you could support this work please go to my fundraising page at http://www.everydayhero.co.uk/julie_morton
Thanks again for all your help and goodbye for now.
As Easter fast approaches and my challenge comes to an end I think that I’m actually going to miss it! Not only because I have learned that my wardrobe is filled with lots of unnecessary clothes, but also because my awareness of the people who make the clothes has been raised and they are never far from my mind.
I think that it is reasonable to expect that the garment workers should earn a living wage and work in factories that meet health and safety standards. Workers continue to suffer so it is really fantastic when there is some good news to rejoice about.
Workers from the Kingsland factory in Cambodia have won an historic settlement after months of protest over unpaid wages.
Walmart & H&M suppliers have agreed to a settlement of US$205,000 for around 160 workers who were left with unpaid wages and no severance pay when factory owners shut the doors late last year.
“When we heard the news, we all shouted. We were so happy,” said Or Sokuong, one of the workers who have been camping outside the factory since 3 January to prevent the factory owners selling the machinery or other assets until they were fully paid in accordance with Cambodian law. “We have power again knowing we will get our salary and benefits after working here so many years.”
It is the first time in Cambodia that brands and their suppliers have sat down to reach an agreement with workers and their representatives. A committee including workers, their representatives, brands, suppliers and the government will agree the distribution, and the payment will be distributed to workers within 2 weeks.
This is what Labour behind the Label is fighting for along with overseas partners and their work really does make a difference.
Thanks again for all your support. If you are able to give a donation, no matter how small, it will be gratefully received. Every penny helps and you can donate by going to my fundraising page at http://www.everydayhero.co.uk/julie_morton.
Thank you for reading this.
So after being slack on the posts for a couple weeks (it’s hard when you don’t have internet at home), but still super keen on the challenge, I have reached the end of the road!
This past 6 weeks has been a great experience, sometimes easier than I thought it would be, sometimes considerably harder.
The most important thing that I will take away from this is that it really isn’t that hard to do your part to help change somebody’s life. Wearing the 6 items everyday for 6 weeks actually wasn’t that devastating of an experience. Sure, Sydney had some abnormally hot weather for this time of year, which made me question my 6 garment choices, but other than that, it was actually quite a nice experience to limit my wardrobe for a while. It has actually made me want to do a big clean out of a lot of the things that I don’t really wear and donate them all to people who will get much better use out of them. I’m planning on doing a big wardrobe detox over the Easter long weekend.
If anyone else is considering doing a wardrobe cleanse soon, (which I would highly recommend – it’s actually nice to have some sort of ‘uniform’ to wear because you don’t have to think about what you’re going to wear each day which saves a lot of time and effort which I’m all for!), here are my tips for keeping your garments in tip top shape in order for them to last longer:
* Hand wash things as much as possible – even if they say they are machine washable. This will lengthen the life of all your garments, especially if your wardrobe consists of garments that are made out of delicate fibres like wool or silk.
* Learn how to use a sewing machine! Although they managed to hold up towards the end, a few of the buttons on my skirt started to loosen up a bit from everyday wear and simply pulling them in and out of buttonholes. If one of them did actually fall off, I would have just fixed it. But this is a skill that not many people have, and I can’t stress enough how helpful it really becomes. Replacing a button here or there makes a garment almost new again sometimes, or fixing a stitch line, or cutting a pair of pants into shorts… you get the idea.
* Dry everything on a line or lying flat and never chuck anything into a dryer! This just distorts all of your clothes and is bad for the environment so it’s a definite no-no!
And here are the following things that I took away from this challenge that made all of this an incredibly rewarding experience:
* People don’t actually notice that you are wearing the same thing over and over again. I was asked a few times by a few different people “Is this part of your 6 items? I’ve never seen you wear this before! You’re cheating!” My response every time would be the same. “Of course it is! I wore this the day before last, and then the day before that! I’ve been wearing this so many times!”
* Having to wash each piece every night after a long day was a really exhausting experience. Every time I’d start to get frustrated because I was hand washing something in the basin and having to rinse it out, I just thought about the person who made my garment and how much work they put in every day for very little return. They are exhausted too, probably much more exhausted than me, and if me hand-washing my top over and over again each night means that this worker can now make one less top that will be bought by one less person, then that’s enough to keep me slaving over the basin for hours on end.
* Try to choose garments that are season specific so you have key pieces to wear for every type of weather. So this was quite difficult to do as Sydney was in between seasons during the challenge and it was incredibly hot with slight bursts of cold here and there. But this would be a solid recommendation from me. Pick a good bunch of wardrobe essentials that will have you equipped for all four seasons.
* The people around you care a lot about what you are doing and are the most important support in this process. Tell as many people as you can about the change you are trying to make and I can guarantee you that 100% of them will be insanely supportive of the cause. These are the people who truly take an interest in what you’re doing and they are all wonderful humans for helping to donate to such a great cause!
It’s been an amazing 6 weeks and something that I will definitely do again, just maybe when it’s a little bit colder to see what the experience is like without insane Australian heat!
Thank you to everyone for all your support and kind words, it’s been an awesome experience and I recommend this to anyone, even if you do it for just one week!
Tomorrow is the last day of the six weeks in NZ, and although I started a couple of days late due to general confusion, I wanted to round up while I can (life is busy!!).
This is what I have found:
1. For me, this challenge has legitimised my desire for simplicity. It has allowed me to live my belief that appearance doesn’t matter. After being called on the way I hide behind my appearance at Christmas, I stopped wearing make-up again (which I hadn’t much until the previous year, due to personal preference). This experiment was a further stripping down. It has brought up vulnerabilities. It has also helped me in the process of acknowledging, to myself and others, my faith. Compassion is my guiding value in life, attempting to emulate in some small way the compassion God shows for us. I can exercise compassion in all sorts of ways, from the way I interact with people to the items that I purchase (or not). Choices matter.
2. I have not felt restricted by a restricted wardrobe, but freed by it. I have worn these items on casual days, to work, socialising, around home. I have been warm enough, cool enough, and tidy enough. Enough is…enough. And no-one has noticed, aside from my husband. Not one person. No-one really cares what you wear. And if you are a little eccentric, people will get over it.
3. I don’t like accessories but I do like adornment. By this, I mean I have no knack for using accessories to enhance an outfit, to bring it together, though this is a type of creativity I admire in others. However, I do like to wear items that feel right and beautiful, items that I leave on for long periods of time, like the greenstone I have worn for over a decade. I like the sensual, elemental aspect of bones and stones and wood, this is what makes me feel good. And I shall wear it.
4. Clothes don’t have to be expensive to last. My cheap ($8) t-shirts are looking worse for wear, my not so cheap ($20) t-shirts have held up fine. As have my $20 odd pants.
5. It’s not a hardship to handwash at night. Most nights. Some nights I just felt blessed to have a washing machine and enough family clothing to need washing.
That is the sum of the knowledge that I have gained this time. In the end, does it really matter what we look like? I still don’t understand the concept of a “professional image” and just can’t get why it it necessary…people are as skilled and compassionate in a t-shirt and jeans as a jacket and dress pants. I don’t understand why I periodically give into the vague pressure to look a certain way, to wear makeup and heels and certain clothing. I don’t understand why I simultaneously resist this by buying everything heavily discounted and second hand, because I don’t think the price is warranted. But in the end, I need to remember: it doesn’t really matter. Very little matters. God, each other, love, living: these things matter. The packaging doesn’t matter, the inside does.
This links back to the Labour Behind the Label mission: people matter much more than things.
- He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!
- What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!
The 6 items challenge is almost over! It has given me lots to think about, not least that I don’t need anywhere near the amount of clothing that’s in my wardrobe! Maybe if others thought like this then there would be a reduction in the demand for fast fashion and also reduced pressure upon the garment industry to meet virtually impossible targets .
Labour behind the Label, who campaign against the exploitation of garment workers, have highlighted the excuses that have been given for not improving conditions and I thought that I would share some of them with you:-
Our company is helping boost employment in these developing countries. By sourcing here we are helping workers who wouldn’t otherwise have any work.
It’s true that, for many workers, getting a job at a garment or sportswear factory is better than some of the alternatives – that is why so many depend on them. The fact that people are desperate isn’t an excuse to exploit them. Workers aren’t getting their fair share of the benefits they are creating for the big companies.
We welcome the fact that millions of people are earning a wage. However, this alone is not enough to lift them from poverty if employers can hire and fire at will, deny union rights, pay low wages that drive people to work inhumane hours just to survive, avoid paying sick leave and avoid observing maternity rights. For many workers, these jobs carry devastating hidden costs, such as poor health, exhaustion and broken families, all of which are unacceptable and avoidable. Everyone wants and is entitled to a quality job that pays “just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his [or her] family an existence worthy of human dignity.” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 23(3)).
Makes you think doesn’t it? It certainly did me, and it also made me realise how easy it is for us to make assumptions and get the facts wrong.
With less than a week to go to the end of the challenge I am just £30 off reaching my target and I am really grateful to everyone who has been able to support the work of LBtL. Thank you very much.
If you are able to donate please go to my fundraising page at http://www.everydayhero.co.uk/julie_morton. Once again, thank you for reading this and for your support.
I’m Kelle, I know I’ve been quite silent during the challenge so I wanted to bring everyone up to date on my progress:
First, let me say, it has been a true pleasure partaking in this challenge. It has also been a real eye-opener to experience how modern society subliminally influences our need for “new” things, especially clothing. During this fast I have had countless events to attend and traveling engagements where, prior to this, I would be running amok trying to find something to wear, and ultimately lament about how I have nothing in-all three of my closets-that would suffice and, in an act of redemption, scurry to the nearest boutique or peruse Etsy. Therefore, it has been strangely refreshing to bypass the preceding ordeal knowing I only have a selected few choices, and in the words of Tim Gunn, “make it work”. So by the second week into the fast, I was quite comfortable with my abridged wardrobe.
Now for the real challenge: convincing family and friends to support, financially, the cause. This has been the struggle, and continues to be. I have sent out well-informed emails to family, friends and coworkers about the challenge and the importance of the cause, however, I have received little contribution. I am still hopeful that I will make my goal, but again, this has certainly been the most challenging.
Overall, the reception for the challenge-as a whole-has been phenomenal. Many people I meet at events or just out are always intrigued by my fast, and it is truly rewarding to share with people about this cause, most of whom were extremely supportive of the issue and interested in joining the challenge in the future. Especially the younger people I have talked to-we need more young people involved in this cause!
One of the things I would have definitely did differently for my preparation for this challenge, I would have pursued doing hands-on events to raise awareness (and funds!) like hosting a clothing swap. Yet, all is not lost, because I plan to host one in April in partnership with a local magazine and community center; it’s going to be epic. It will be the first swap party of this nature hosted in my city, and I am super excited to represent LBL on a grander scale and increase awareness for this extremely worthy cause:)
Here are a few pics of my wardrobe, and the thank you cards my niece and I made for those who made donations.
If you would like to make a donation on my behalf, please go to http://www.everydayhero.co.uk/socialfashionist
it would be greatly appreciated, thank you:)
Huge irony, we feel, that H&M are launching their ‘conscious’ collection….
It’s only seems like months since LBL and the rest of the international Clean Clothes Campaign launched a swathe of protests and actions highlighting shocking problems inherent in the Cambodian garment industry… Covering all life’s responsibilities with a garment worker’s poverty wages have provoked mass faintings across the industry, put down to exhaustion and malnourishment – the result of wages stretched too far.
The Clean Clothes Campaign has hit back with its own spoof campaign highlighting the plight of thousands of garment workers suffering from malnutrition who work in factories supplying H&M, amongst others.
Conscious clothes, made by unconscious workers?
The new adbust shows Vanessa Paradis, model for H&M, sitting in a leafy garden, surrounded by garment worker images. H&M is, alongside Gap, Levis and Zara, one of the main buyers of the booming Cambodian garment industry. Due to the low wage and consequently low calorie intake, many workers in H&M factories are malnourished.The Clean Clothes Campaign is calling on H&M to live up to it’s “conscious”, “sustainable” and “responsible” claims and lead the industry by committing to a living wage.
Join the petition calling on H&M and other fashion brands to pay a living wage. http://livingwage.cleanclothes.org/#act
You can watch a film about the problem of mass fainting here:
Another weekend away, a retreat this time. I went up to Northumberland and have to confess that there was a point when I was wishing that I could wear more layers!
At least the cold weather is a good reminder of why I am taking part in this 6 items challenge.
Workers making clothes that end up in the stores of the biggest names on the British high street have testified to a shocking regime of abuse, threats and poverty pay. Many workers in Indian factories earn so little that an entire month’s wages would not buy a single item they produce.
Physical and verbal abuse is rife, while female workers who fail to meet impossible targets say they are berated, called “dogs and donkeys”, and told to “go and die”. Many workers who toil long hours in an attempt to support their families on poverty wages claim they are cheated out of their dues by their employers.
Sakamma, a 42-year-old mother-of-two working for Gap supplier Texport in Bengaluru, told a tribunal she earned just 22p an hour and that when she finished at the factory she had to work as a domestic help to top up her wages.
Like many of the women giving evidence, she said workers faced abuse if they failed to meet quotas. “The targets are too high. They want 150 pieces an hour. When we can’t meet the targets, the abuse starts. There is too much pressure; it is like torture. We can’t take breaks or drink water or go to the toilet. The supervisors are on our backs all the time,” she said. “They call us donkey, owl [a creature associated with evil], dog and insult us … make us stand in front of everyone, tell us to go and die.”
The Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), which organised the tribunal, wants companies to pay a minimum living wage of 12,096 rupees (£138) a month, equivalent to 58p an hour. But the tribunal heard that a factory supplying Gap and Next paid as little as 26p an hour.
Workers who failed to meet targets were verbally and physically abused, he said. “They ….. push us around and some people get slapped by supervisors and managers,” he said. “I feel the companies look at the workers like enemies.”
Anannya Bhattacharjee, international co-ordinator for the AFWA, told the tribunal that despite the recession the garment industry continued to bring in profits. She said workers continued to suffer “shocking, inhuman conditions” and were being paid poverty wages. “Nothing can be more important than a decent living wage for workers working day and night to clothe the world.”
This exploitation is unacceptable and Labour behind the Label are campaigning with their partners for the garment worker’s rights. Could you give a small donation to support their work? If you can help, please go to my fundraising page http://www.everydayhero.co.uk/julie_morton. Thank you to everyone who has already donated and a big thank you for reading this.
Hello Fellow Sixers and Fashion Friends,
Before I show what I wore during weeks 3 & 4 I have a few tips for readers who are considering participating in the challenge:
TIP #1: Keep a simple written or pictorial log of what you’ve worn each day. It’s amazing how quickly you forget what you wore – even when you only have six items of clothing.
TIP #2: When you decide how you are going to document your outfits, try to keep the process simple. I opted not to take self portraits each day and to do an ‘inspiration board’ approach. This turned out to be more work than I care to admit and I’ve run into some glitches along the way. My advice – keep it simple
TIP #3: Have an elevator speech (30 second speech) ready to respond to people if they ask you about your rotating wardrobe. Keep your message short and interesting so people will remember it and share your story. Mine goes something like what I have below. Usually these three sentences lead into a full conversation.
“I’m participating in a global awareness campaign called The Six Item Challenge. Me and my fellow Sixers are wearing 6 pieces of clothing for 6 weeks so we can help bring awareness to the high cost of fast fashion. You can check out The Six Items Challenge and Labour Behind the Label online to learn more.”
So, here are the outfits I came up with for weeks 3 & 4. Drum roll please…