Big Sister Hotline: AJA BARBER
Hello, and welcome BACK to the Big Sister Hotline! I’ve been on hiatus for a few months, partly because I was taking time off to finish my book (out on November 3!) and partly because of lockdown fatigue. But here we are, launching back into the hotline with enthusiasm and vitality!
In this first episode back, I’m joined by the phenomenal AJA BARBER. She’s a writer, an activist and a content creator using her platform to campaign for true change in the fashion industry and its deplorable oppression of the global south, or as she would have it, the world’s ‘traditionally pillaged’ countries. Her Instagram video, ‘Why performative allyship is triggering’, which called out brands and influencers for monetising the BLM movement, has accumulated over one million views. In her debut book, “CONSUMED: On colonialism, climate change, consumerism and the need for collective change, she lays out an unimpeachable argument against supporting fast fashion and the brands who clog up the world’s waterways and landfills with it. It’s a horrifying and absolutely necessary read, and in this conversation we talk about the social imperative we face to undo the impact of this industry.
Some facts discussed:
* It takes 5000 gallons of water to make just one t shirt and pair of jeans - so how much water is wasted every year churning out clothes that are worn once or twice before being thrown away?
* The millions of clothes we discard every year in op shops and recycling bins largely end up in landfill in the backyards of people in the Global South, or as she calls it, “traditionally pillaged countries”.
* In 2018 alone, H&M recorded $4.3 BILLION of unsold stock. And to put that in perspective (and as Aja told me) the length of one billion one dollar notes laid out end to end would wrap around the earth four times - meaning the cost of unsold stock for just one fast fashion company in one year alone would wrap around the earth SIXTEEN TIMES.
This is before we even talk about the inhumane abuse of garment workers, none of whom see even a smidge of the profits billionaires at the top accrue.
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