The Perfect Gentleman Issue 6 - Page 19

For men interested in sustainable clothing, it has been difficult to find anything beyond Doc Martin boots and gym wear. Now, more and more companies and designers are creating vegan and sustainable clothing that can pass muster in an office or at the theater. The Perfect Gentleman’s Brian R. Sheridan spoke with Christina Sewell, fashion campaign coordinator for the often-controversial People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) about this new movement. The Perfect Gentleman: Is there such a thing as “sustainable wool?” Christina Sewell: If a friend has alpaca farm in their backyard that’s one thing but on a mass industry level, the short answer is always going to be ‘no’. As with all livestock, the raising of sheep contributes to significantly to climate change. In New Zealand, methane emissions make up 90% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions most of that coming from sheep. So members of the New Zealand government proposed taxing sheep farmers for emissions. The plan did not pass but it goes to show the discussion that is going on around that issue. There is also water pollution that is another concern. There is so much fecal matter that goes into the rivers and drinking water. Sheep dip is another concern, it is a chemical farmers use to rid the sheep of their parasites and it causes expensive problems because it pollutes the water and kills off fish. In the US, 2010, more than 9,000 pounds of insecticide have been applied to sheep. You can imagine where all of that is going. Grazing sheep, like grazing cattle, is contributing to deforestation, topsoil loss, all these issues. With sheep being raised in such huge numbers in places like Australia, some part of the South America, and in the US, we have to start thinking about methane emissions and other issues. The UN said 51% of all methane emissions and greenhouse gases are coming from animal used for farming purposes. TPG: Is there sustainable wool? CS: People often say ‘it’s a natural fabric – it has to be better than synthetic fibers’ but synthetic fibers may not always bee good for the environment because they use fossil fuels but the comparison is not even close. When we can chose fabric that are plant-based or manufactured with less of an environmental cost, we should be doing everything we can to move in this direction. TPG: So what began this movement towards sustainable clothing? CS: When we had the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh back in 2013 (the deadliest garmentfactory accident in history with 1,130 workers killed and 2,500 injured), people began waking up to what is going on behind the scenes in the clothing industry. It’s not just about how people are making our clothes but who is making the clothes, where are they coming from, and how many millions of animals are suffering for things like our shoes and suits for men. Ethical fashion is thinking about the forced labor and the environmental impact of our clothing, animal cruelty issues, all that is being taken into account. More people than ever before what to align themselves with being “eco” in what they are driving, what they are eating, but also what they are wearing. TPG: Is it difficult to find sustainable clothing? CS: You still have to look for it. If you are not in the vegan community, or the sustainable fashion community, it does take a little bit of digging but there are definitely options there. A Gentleman Talks with Christina Sewell 19