Thursday 2 September 2010
Affordable Eco Fashion - Interview with the Environmental Justice Foundation
Following my report from the Clothes Show 2010, readers asked to see the transcript of the interview with the Environmental Justice Foundation. Here it is...
So you’re from the Environmental Justice Foundation, what’s your name and position?
My name is Valerie, I’m an intern on EJF’s Marketing and PR team and I’m working on the cotton campaign mainly.
Ok, so what is the cotton campaign?
The cotton campaign is an EJF campaign to raise awareness of the environmental and human right abuse linked with cotton production, especially in Uzbekistan. Non organic cotton production uses very harmful and toxic chemicals and in Uzbekistan the government has taken control of the production and farmers do not get fair prices for their work.
Can I ask for those who don’t know, cotton grown isn’t grown in the UK is that right?
No it’s not.
So people talk about locally grown material as being good because it reduces the miles that the goods have to travel. What do you think about the balance between having locally grown materials in the UK, and organic cotton from other countries?
Well I actually look at it the other way around. When cotton is grown in poorer countries such as India or Mali, so it can be way of generating wealth for countries and communities that needs it. It can be a very positive thing, because you buy a great product here and you’re also helping somebody at the other side of the planet.
In terms of transport our t-shirts are 100% organic cotton and are produced in India using wind turbine and are 90% carbon dioxide neutral. The company which produces the t-shirts has a no freight policy so all is shipped by boat. Ethical and ecological brands often try to reduce the amount of transport involved, so for example they might ship large amounts of items at once. In other words there are ways of reducing CO2 emissions linked with shipping if it’s not a product that is produced locally.
I find it very interesting, the similarities between food and fashion, organic food and organic cotton.
The main thing those two areas have in common is the pesticides. Any food or fibre like cotton that has been grown organically has been grown without the use of toxic chemical pesticides. People often understand the implications of pesticides in food more easily – by eating organically they avoid possibly ingesting something which is, simply, designed to kill. Clothing kind of takes it to a next step as its more down to the health of the people that grow the cotton in the first instance. But of course, when the pesticide are sprayed in the fields the wind transport these pesticides all over the planet literally and it can affect all of us.
So the Environmental Justice Foundation sells cotton bags, what other products does it sell? Does it sell clothes as well?
EJF has recently collaborated with Jade Jagger and the organic cotton bags are a limited edition. But our main range of products are the organic cotton t-shirts. EJF has developed the t-shirts collection with various fashion designers such as Betty Jackson, Giles Deacon, Christian Lacroix and many more who support our “Pick Your Cotton Carefully” campaign for environmental justice in the cotton industry. Every year we have more designers coming on board and the collection keeps growing! You can buy EJF t-shirts on our website, they are beautiful and there is a design for everyone.
So does the Environmental Justice Foundation focus on fashion, or does it do other things as well?
For nearly ten years EJF has run a number of major campaigns including action to resolve abuses and create ethical practice and environmental sustainability in cotton production, shrimp farming and fisheries. The NGO works to stop the devastating impacts of illegal fishing operators, prevent the use of unnecessary and dangerous pesticides and to secure vital international support for climate refugees.
So no, it doesn’t focus solely on fashion and cotton! We use t-shirts as a message board to raise awareness, funds and actions for all our campaigns which you can see films and read reports about on the website. You can find out more information about all EJF campaigns on the website: www.ejfoundation.org.