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Sustainable Fashion: the gift that gives twice

Fast Fashion Is Unsustainable

The fast fashion industry is the world’s largest polluter after oil. This is largely caused by farming one of the thirstiest of all crops – non-organic cotton. Conventional, non-organic cotton farming requires an extremely high use of water resulting in draining water resources, decreasing wildlife diversity and preventing future generations from meeting their basic human needs. Growing conventional cotton uses 16% of the world’s total insecticides and pesticides and it takes over 3,900 litres of water to produce an average t-shirt. Fairness and environmental justice in fashion is needed urgently. Against this unjust system there is a growing movement of ethical consumers demanding transparency in fashion business practices with a thirst to know the social and environmental impact of the clothes that they buy. People Tree values transparency and sustainable production, which is why nearly 90% of our collection is made from organic cotton. And most of that 90% is 100% organic cotton.

People Tree actively seeks to reduce climate change in our supply chain and business practices. Over ten years ago we were the first company to launch a range to meet the Global Organic Textile Standard certified by the Soil Association made entirely in the developing world. Our collection carries the Fairtrade mark and/or Soil Association organic mark. We use natural biodegradable materials and avoid using synthetics, plastics and toxic finishes, which are frequently used in clothing manufacture. By choosing an organic farming method, we lock CO2 into the soil and 94% less greenhouse gasses are emitted. On average organic cotton reduces global warming by 46% compared to non-organic methods.

Organic fibres and fabrics reduce the use of oil-based pesticides, water usage and the spread of GMO seeds. Our farmers have indigenous, organic seed banks. Organic cotton ensures that hazardous pesticides are not used, which is safer for the environment and your skin. For us it is important that farmers, tailors and customers are not exposed to toxic chemicals. There is less energy and water use, organic cotton farming also protects and promotes wildlife and habitat, as well as mixed crops providing the farmers with healthy food for their table.

People Tree also protects the workers in our production chain. Through Fairtrade and GOTs, we guarantee that small scale cotton farmers in developing countries receive a fair and stable price and long term partnership.
As an ethical consumer, when I started People Tree 25 years ago I wanted to work with Fair Trade groups who put environmental issues and women’s development central to everything they do and to celebrate a more sustainable way of living. At Christmas I can’t wait to enjoy time with the people that matter as well as enjoying organic food and drink. There is nothing better than giving an organic gift that delights your friends and family whilst empowering the people who made it. This really multiplies the social change and brings about huge community development like schools, clean water projects and micro saving schemes in the most vulnerable communities of our world.

Safia Minney is the Founder and CEO of Fair Trade and sustainable fashion label People Tree. Safia has turned a lifelong interest in environment, trade and social justice issues into an award winning social business. Safia is widely regarded as a leader in the Fair Trade movement and has been awarded Outstanding Social Entrepreneur by the World Economic Forum’s Schwab Foundation and an MBE for her work in Fair Trade and the fashion industry.

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