Bonn’s annual partner organization FEMNET will also participate in the upcoming SDG days. We spoke to Dr. Gisela Burckhardt, Chairwoman of the Board, development policy expert and campaigner with a special focus on social human rights, about fair fashion and the new shopping guide for Bonn as well as about the association’s important work in general.
Dr. Burckhardt, in your view, what makes fashion fair?
A large part of our clothing is produced under inhumane conditions. Despite considerable overtime and hard work, the seamstresses do not receive wages that are sufficient to support them and their families. Fashion is therefore only fair if people who produce our clothing receive a wage that ensures their livelihood and if all other core labor standards, such as no forced labor, no discrimination, the right to freedom of association and occupational safety, are also complied with. At the same time, the production of clothing must not harm the environment. The global production of textiles consumes more CO2 than all air and sea traffic combined. Petroleum and chemicals are used in the production of clothing, and 70 percent of our clothing consists of synthetic fibers, which are very harmful to people and nature. The overproduction of cheap fashion also leads to millions of tons of waste. Eco-fairly produced fashion therefore also requires a conscious use of resources and energy.
What can consumers do?
Consumers can make sure that they buy clothes that have been produced under fair conditions. There are now several seals that show consumers what has been taken into account during production, e.g. whether the core labor standards or ecological standards have been adhered to. FEMNET offers various brochures and flyers that give a good overview of the different seals. Consumers can download these free of charge from our homepage. In addition, we have created a practical shopping guide for Bonn, now in its 5th edition. Here, consumers can not only inform themselves about the labels, but also quickly and easily find out where they can buy eco-fair fashion in Bonn. With the support of 11 volunteers, FEMNET surveyed 177 stores about their product range while attaching great importance to clearly defined criteria. Without the financial support of the City of Bonn, the Bonn Charity Parliament and Engagement Global the brochure would not have been possible, including the app for the shopping guide which was developed for the first time. Consumers can use the shopping guide to ensure that they consume more consciously. Conscious shopping also means buying less overall or in second-hand stores, which are also presented in the shopping guide.
Where can I get the shopping guide?
Everyone can download the shopping guide from our website. On our homepage we have a special section with consumer tips, where you can also find all other flyers and brochures. The shopping guide is also available free of charge as a small booklet at our office in Bonn. Consumers will also find the QR code for the app on our homepage. This makes it easy for them to find out where they can buy eco-friendly fashion while they are on the move in the city.
What does the FEMNET association do?
In addition to practical consumer tips, FEMNET works on various projects abroad to improve the working and living conditions of seamstresses, especially in India and Bangladesh. We are working together with selected partner organizations that have close contact to the textile workers on site and often know from their own experience what problems the seamstresses, especially women, are facing. At the same time, FEMNET offers a wide range of educational activities. We conduct workshops, seminars and conferences at schools and universities to sensitize tomorrow's leaders to the effects of the fast fashion industry and to point out possible solutions. We also advise the public sector, municipalities and cities, but also companies on the procurement of fair clothing and merchandise, as sustainable criteria in the purchasing strategy can positively influence working conditions and environmental impacts.