Down to Earth: How to Turn Fast Fashion into Sustainable Fashion

This episode of the podcast is about sustainability in the clothing industry and how years of over-consumption and unsafe manufacturing has led to a counter-industry striving to do better.

By Elise Epp on July 27, 2020

The garment workers were told they needed to go back into the factory or they would lose their jobs. The day before, large cracks in the walls had been discovered and the building was evacuated. Employees of the bank and other businesses in Rana Plaza were told to stay home, but the garment factories had orders to fill and their workers were forced to return. Shortly after 9 am on April 24, 2013, the building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed and 1,134 people died; thousands more were injured. They had been making clothes for familiar brands: Joe Fresh, Prada, The Children’s Place.

"I had already been turning away from fast fashion," says Elise Epp, IISD's graphic designer and host of this episode. "After the Rana Plaza collapse, when I went into Joe Fresh or saw an H&M tag, I saw the faces of the victims in the rubble."

Today, Elise only buys ethical clothing or, more often, simply makes it herself. "My definition of 'ethical clothing' has changed over time. In some ways it's become stricter but also more full of grey areas. At the same time, it has opened up a new world of passionate entrepreneurs and activists."

Listen above to meet some of these people who are working for a better garment industry, including the ones who might just be making the world's only sustainable denim.