Fashions dirty secrets

Fashions dirty secrets

The fashion industry is the world's second largest polluter? Can't be, surely?

30 second version

Documentarian Stacey Dooley’s eye opening project looks at the massive impact fashion is having on our environment and the ways in which we can all make a difference. From the disappearance of the Aral Sea to the contamination of the River Citarum, Dooley’s travels hammer home the extent brands are going to, in order to provide cheap fast fashion, but realistically, it’s costing us the earth.

5 minute version

Surely one of our most fundamental concerns is the impact that we are having on our beautiful planet - our home. We invite you to remember that There Is No Planet B. We all need to Love Our Tiny Blue Dot and why do we want to do that? Look no further than the shocking evidence provided by renowned documentarian Stacey Dooley in her latest BBC project: “Fashion’s Dirty Secrets”. To the shock of the general public, Dooley revealed that behind the much-publicised behemoth that is the oil & coal industry, the fashion industry has become the second most polluting industry on the planet.



The former massive Sea is now a massive desert.

Dooley takes the audience on a fascinating journey to what remains of the Aral Sea - formerly one of the largest inland seas on the planet - which has almost completely dried up due to its waters being used to farm cotton. The irony of cotton typically being presented in the media as a positive environmental pulling factor, whereas the cotton industry has caused the largest man made environmental disaster to date. This is not lost on the locals around (and technically, in) the former Sea tell tales of the impact its disappearance has had on the environment, employment and public health. This just goes to show how many hidden effects such changes can have beyond their initial appearance. The fishing industry has completely collapsed and the livelihoods this has cost as a result, are immeasurable. The former massive Sea is now a massive desert. Residents report greatly increased cases of tuberculosis, strokes, and varying forms of cancers. And taking all of this into account, know that Uzbekistan is only the world number eight in cotton production.

And it’s not just cotton - it’s the dyes that are used on them, which in the lesser-developed countries that perform the process, end up dumped into rivers. Dooley takes us to the River Citarum in Indonesia, a waterway that has essentially become an above-ground sewage system thanks to the factories lining its banks that dump their excesses into the open water. This is not policed in the country, there are no repercussions, and the big brands that use these factories have no interest in putting pressure on them to change their ways, as long as their profits are firmly in the black and everything is legally (yet not morally) above board. A sample she takes from the Citarum finds the presence of mercury, cadmium, arsenic and lead - all of which quite clearly have a terrible impact on the environment and on the human body when ingested. Concern is completely warranted as the impoverished bathe in and even drink this water, which is so highly contaminated that to even define it as water at all is frankly questionable. It smells repulsive and is an opaque brown colour. As was the case around the Aral Sea, a public health crisis has arisen which, regrettably, can hardly be considered a surprise. The Citarum irrigates a great deal of crops and farmland around it, so even the food supply - for no less than 28 million people - is at risk. If only the big brands cared to make change and become a prosocial brand.

Dooley is smart to point out that it is unlikely that the people at the top are going to make the necessary changes, when their sole aim is to make huge profits. We all need to help change the culture around clothing and fast fashion. Not everybody can march on Downing Street and take the authorities to task - and as Dooley actually discovers, these authorities are far from forthcoming about tackling the issue anyway - so a change in consumer’s attitudes seems to be the way forward.

This is where SeaPigs comes in as a prosocial brand determined to promote helpful human behaviour and minimise our footprint on the planet. The documentary advises that we put less emphasis on rapid consumption and “buying for the sake of buying” as 30,000 tonnes of clothing end up in landfill each year. Imagine if these big brands were forced to take their products back after use. They would then ensure the products were not harmful, designed to be easily taken apart and could be easily re-used. This is sustainable by design.

This is why we have the SeaPigs Guarantee:
SeaPigs guarantee to re-use or recycle your old SeaPigs products free of charge and give you £10 off your next purchase.

We will take back our products from you once they are beyond use and re-use or recycle them into new SeaPigs products, and reward you, the customer with a discount on your next purchase for helping. The amount of brands dealing in products that have no investment in the disposal of their products effectively past the point of sale is embarrassing, and clearly slapping “please recycle” on the label isn’t working. It’s more important than ever before to remember that just because it’s cheap, it doesn’t mean it isn’t costing us the earth.