So, over the past few weeks I’ve been taking part in the Sustainability in Practice certificate (SiP) and it’s been an eye opening experience to say the least! As a Physical Geography graduate, I obnoxiously thought I knew tonnes about sustainability, after sitting in numerous lectures about Climate Change and ‘Environmental Issues and Impacts’, even doing my dissertation on Environmental Management. Little did I know that was just scratching the surface!
Out of the three theme choices for the SIP certificate (Food, Clothing and Energy), I decided to choose ‘Clothing’ to give my brain a break from what I thought I knew about sustainability and to push myself to learn something new (not because I missed my retail job back home I promise, whoops… sorry JD).
As I have just started an internship at NTU, (shout out to the Green Academy team), my initial thought when starting SiP was ‘eek I hope I pass!’ – as it would be more than a little awkward if I didn’t manage it. But after starting Session One, if my reaction to ‘The Life Cycle of a Sock’ activity was anything to go by, I knew I’d be just fine. I was hooked on all the new information bombarding my brain. Almost like that time I read a little too much of my new Brian Cox book before bed, which sparked far too deep late night thoughts about the meaning of life, oops!).
Throughout the course of the online sessions, I couldn’t believe how ignorant I had been to something I’d been participating in my whole life. From learning about the cotton farmers often incurring crushing debts in order to buy toxic fertilizers, desperately trying to keep up with the demand for ‘fast fashion’ (often sadly ending their lives with the same fertilizers), to the textile workers working in worse than ‘poor’ conditions. I realised, through doing the SiP certificate, just how many issues the textile industry raises both socially, economically and environmentally worldwide.
The working conditions of those who made my clothes, shamefully hadn’t been something which was at the top of my priority list when I saw that there was a Zara sale on, or that I absolutely must have that new dress for that night out that I absolutely must got to. However, after learning about the harsh reality of the lives of the textile workers in cramped warehouses, often being mentally or physically abused if they didn’t meet the impossible hourly garment requirements, it’s been hard to ignore and I have promised myself to try and do my part to help.
It hasn’t all been doom and gloom however! I found reading about all the positive projects and ways people are coming together to make a change in Session Four of the SiP certificate very inspiring and uplifting. From ‘Swap Shops’ here at NTU, encouraging the reuse of pre loved items, to projects such as ‘Labour Behind the Label’, a campaign to improve working conditions in the textile industry.
After reading about all the positive ways we can make a change and demonstrating my understanding of these in a really fun creative way for the final project, I have vouched to do my part (even if it is baby steps for now!)
I hope you enjoyed reading! I encourage any person who is able to do SiP to do so! Whatever your discipline or what you think you know about sustainability, you’ll have your eyes opened for sure!
-Thank you to Laura Hill, who is a Project Officer in the NTU Green Academy, for writing this blog post!
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