Each day, tens of tons of clothes are given away by people who do not want them any more. Only 10 to 15 per cent of this mountain is re-sold in Norway. Most is sent to the developing world.
Many of us buy far too much, clothes being high on the list. This has a well known effect on our environment. A lot of soil, water and energy is required in making clothes, especially those made from cotton; the most used fibre in the world. Many places where cotton is produced, the soil should rather have been used for food production.
How many cotton T-shirts adorned with an advertisement or a campaign logo do we have in our wardrobes? It is about time we start thinking about what a T-shirt is costing our planet and the communities where it is made; not what it is costing us.
Most clothing and textiles are produced in countries where labour is much cheaper than in Norway. On the whole, clothes have become too cheap. If our aim is that our grandchildren are to inherit a healthy planet, and live in healthy vibrant communities, we have to change our ways. We have to start buying fewer, but finer things.
The reality of our unwanted textiles sent to the developing world as “gifts” contributes to destroying the fundament of building up their own textile production. There is really very little salvation in our excessiveness. At Oleana we produce clothes at our own factory in Norway using ecologically acceptable raw materials such as wool, alpaca, silk and linen. These are fibres which can be re-circulated, and several of them come from animals which are also used for food. There is a lot of sense in that.
We value very highly the raw materials we use, and the people who work with them and the environment they do it in. There is no place for the exploitation of children and adults in our world. The textile industry has, unhappily, many factories which do not suffer closer inspection. Therefore we are inspired by new commercial concepts such as Fair Trade, so much so we have developed, and live by, our own; ‘Fair Made’.