Maria Zafar

Written by

May 7, 2021


It’s that time of year again. Yep, we’re in the blessed last ten days of Ramadan!

And so, as we edge closer to Eid, many of us are getting our clothes ready for this special day.

But… Before you rush to the shops as we welcome the easing up of lockdown restrictions, it’s important to understand the cost of your Eid outfit!

Now, we’re not talking about the monetary value of your outfit here, but rather the impact it’s having on the planet.

In fact, although this issue is not spoken about as often as it should, the reality is your new salwar kameez, saree, kaftan, jilbab, dress or whatever you choose to wear on Eid is having an impact on the earth.

And a detrimental one at that…

 

The ecological cost of fashion: Affecting people and planet

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The fashion industry is having a major impact on the planet.

Did you know that annually, global emissions from textile production are equivalent to 1.2 billion tonnes of CO₂?

Yes, to put that into context: this outweighs the carbon footprint of international flights and shipping combined. Shocking, isn’t it?

What’s more, these clothes use up precious water supplies, with cotton being amongst one of the worst culprits.

In fact, producing 1kg of cotton requires 1,000 to 2,000 litres of water. That’s without mentioning the huge strain production puts on water supplies in some of the developing countries where we work.

In places such as Pakistan and Bangladesh which produce large amounts of garments for the UK and overseas, not everyone has access to a safe source of water and resources are in high demand.

What’s more, demand for textiles is also harming wildlife.

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Silk production is harmful to silk worms, involving incredibly torturous processes.

Globally, cotton fields account for 2.4% of cultivated land, but consume 6% of pesticides and 16% of insecticides. This can often leave land barren and is also harming animals and humans alike.

Other fabrics such as silk involve killing silkworms. To make just 1kg of silk requires killing 6,600 silkworms, often through gassing and boiling these insects alive.

How ironic is it that we are destroying something which could eventually become a butterfly or a moth for a manmade aesthetic. A garment which could never compete with Allah’s beautiful creation, subhanAllah…

And sadly it doesn’t end there.

85% of all textiles go to the dump each year, whilst the demand for fast fashion continues to escalate.

At present, it’s expected that clothing consumption will increase globally by 63% by 2030, from 62 million tonnes to 102 million tonnes by 2030.

As Muslims, we must take heed. Islam is a religion that places a huge emphasis on environmental consciousness.

Allah (SWT) calls us on to be custodians of the earth. Therefore, we should be taking a lead in climate action, as well as leading a lifestyle that is in harmony with the earth.

Imagine having had a blessed Ramadan connected to Allah, only to disregard your responsibilities when it comes to our preferences for clothing on Eid.

Islamic Relief recognises this obligation to the earth and so we’ve come up with five top tips on how you can have put together a great Eid outfit – with as little damage to the planet as possible!

 

1. Revive an old tradition

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Visit a tailor or dig out the sewing machine to make a great outfit.

As a young teenager, I vividly remember my Nan and Mum turning fabric into beautiful clothes for me, made with a lot of love and care.

I remember feeling especially special on Eid thinking that I was the only person in the world with this outfit.

However, as ethnic apparel has become more available and mass-produced over time, we’ve started losing this tradition of getting creative and sewing our own clothes.

This is something we should seek to revive. Buying fabric locally and sewing it yourself (or giving it to a tailor) is far better for the environment than buying imported already stitched clothes available in shops.

 

2. Upcycle old clothes

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Give an old garment a new lease of life by upcycling with some new fabric or accessories.

Everyone has that old saree, abayah or wedding lehnga just sitting there in their wardrobe collecting dust.

And what’s great about this is that: you’ve got fabric ready for you to upcycle and get creative with!

Why not turn a saree into a gharara, new top, or even both! There’s definitely enough fabric for it.

And, to get you started check out some great ideas here.

 

3. Swap with family and friends

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A clothing swap is a great way to find new threads and clear out your wardrobe at the same time.

If you’ve got a few items you no longer like or perhaps don’t fit anymore, why not swap clothes with friends and family?

You can set up a little fashion get-together in your garden and see what gems you can find.

You’ll gain a new outfit and clear out your wardrobe at the same time. No waste, no pollution. Simple!

 

4. Get thrifty  

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From Depop and Etsy, to a host of offline and online charity shops (including our own!) plus vintage shops on and offline, there are a huge number of ways to buy second-hand clothes.

Not only will you be saving the planet from the environmental impact of buying a new outfit, but you’ll be helping small-scale sellers and charities at the same time.

Have a look – you may just find a beautiful bargain!

 

5. Avoid silk garments and accessories

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Silk is one of several fabrics which is damaging the planet through its production.

Silk may look beautiful but is sadly the cause of environmental pollution and much suffering to silkworms.

Silk production uses high amounts of energy, toxic dyes, high volumes of water, with most silkworms killed in their cocoons before developing into a moth.

For more sustainable options, pick wild or organic silk – or simply choose another fabric. It’s simply not worth the cost to these delicate creatures and Allah’s beautiful planet.

 

Of course, Eid is a time of celebration and we want to look our best. The traditional hadith says:

Jabir (RA) said: “The Prophet (SAW) had a Jubbah (cloak) that he would wear on Eid and on Fridays.”

We are encouraged to wear our best clothes on Eid. However, this does not necessarily mean new clothes.

If we consider the environmental degradation fast fashion is contributing to and the impact such demand is having on the lives of vulnerable people, buying a new outfit doesn’t fit our commitment to preserving Allah’s beautiful creation.

Therefore, as we approach the end of Islamic Relief’s Eco Ramadan campaign, let’s continue in the spirit of sincerity and custodianship.

Let’s ensure that this commitment translates to the garments we choose to wear for this Eid and beyond.

And finally, please do support our campaigners working hard on the Meat Free Fortnight Challenge as they finish this two-week commitment, raising money to help create sustainable livelihoods.

Thank you.

Eid Mubarak from everyone at Islamic Relief!

© Copyrights 2021 Islamic Relief Worldwide, Inc. All rights reserved. Registered Charity No. 328158

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