It has been a busy week, getting to know new people across the screen and yet still very fulfilling as I am discovering another layer of my 3 decades of industry engagement and even remembering highlights which I have taken for granted to be still very valuable as I tell out stories outside industry. I also keep on going deeper from the surface to question what lies beneath and keep on learning and sharing about the thereafter.
I am the curious type and Aries or not it has been my driving force in hard times, when I get stuck, as things fall apart – I get intrigued and start experiencing, reading, listening and becoming even more vulnerable. I also think that what remains as valid is the change itself – the Universe keep on changing, evolving and it is almost impossible to KNOW in full. I have found it to be accommodating to more “get a feel of” and then as I read or dive deeper into a subject; the connections reveal themselves unexpectedly. It is as if I have a radar that can sense better and the constant notion of “knowing” disappears. I can stay more fluid, be open to making mistakes as well as to discovering. This is how I approach the wonders of the fashion industry after 3 decades. I have started the “Climate Crisis in my Wardrobe” talks in Turkish to raise awareness and have been sharing the good, the bad the ugly and the amazing possibilities with university students as well as on the education platform of the Permaturk Foundation. Building the intersectional dialogues, hearing of the interest, responding to the inspirational questions and just joying over the collective curiosity is very fulfilling.
Referring to Timothy Morton`s Hyperconnected Objects where he draws attention to the failure of sustainability being in the fact that we do not realize that we live in this “ONE” World. Talking of the weather has been referred as an icebreaker, conversation saver but not anymore and when we had the amazing temperate sunny days with 18 Celsius in the middle of January , sitting on my beach chair by the water watching people take a dive; I was almost feeling guilty and at unease as I was feeling a part of what was happening. The climate crisis is not simply of today or happening to a part of humanity; it is deeply rooted in colonialism, injustice, misguidance and as we failed to (or were mis-lead to) see the connections of ecosystems, landfills, chemicals, microfibers we have considered ourselves to be intact. Not anymore. The NOT in my BACKYARD notion of shipping out the waste OUT and AWAY from where it is accumulated has become a common practice creating the notion that there is a separate BACKYARD. An illusion that does not become real unless you look deeper.
What we sustain is the flow of raw materials derived from natural resources and the labor that transfers these materials into capital, not taking into account what enters the system as far as it generates more capital. The past 2 decades in fashion has been centered on accumulation of clothes, overproduction leading to stocks in stores, in wardrobes, in landfills. The past 15 years the fashion production increased by 2 fold and the use of clothing decreased by half; simple math that leads to the sustained depletion of natural resources and unvalued, discounted human labor. It is not always what we think but HOW we think may lead us to be connected and relate to the bigger understanding of a interwoven reality of a world.
The research Liz Ricketts and Branson Skinner who have founded the OR Foundation and have trailed down the clothing waste of the global North to Ghana, Kantamanto, builds a strong interconnection of our things, of ourselves. The OR Foundation and the White Dead Man`s Clothes research project goes deeper to unleash the consumer-based relationship we have with fashion, also urging all to take fashion flow seriously. The Lecture Liz Ricketts presented on the opensource education platform; the amazing Study Hall is conducting has inspired me to challenge a content for my training sessions to be focused on interconnectivity. We have to acknowledge that Kantamanto is in our wardrobes.
According to the research findings 15 million garments arrive in Kantamanto every week and %40 of the clothing which gets sorted becomes waste as it is not usable.
Kantamanto is a living market where producers, laundries, designers, buyers and sellers co-create live hoods based on the waste stream of fashion. The waste in Kantamanto has devastating impact on human and ecosystem health and the unused 2nd hand clothing becomes a health crisis. The fashion system cannot rely on a system to send waste “far-away” as this very notion totally defeats any effort of becoming circular or sustainable. Kantamanto recirculates all the unwanted fashion waste at 100 million items every 4-5 years – the fashion system cannot rely on Kantamanto to clean up its mess. What remains as hope is the amazing creativity that the local designers express with the 2nd hand clothing and how Sackitey Tesa reaching our senses, has portrayed fashion not meant to be thrown away. The OR Foundation is building a textile recycling center in Ghana and intending to turn textile waste into new materials to sustain a value added flow of goods.
Going back to not what we sustain but how we relate to our clothes might make a difference and transform into a movement to declare the change that we demand. If we can consider the value of what we hold most close to our skin; our second skin; all the way from the nature and the labor which have served in the making to what happens once we dispose of it, if we get curious and reimagine the links, start sensing rather than knowing to transform for a Climate Solution in Our Wardrobes.