Cat pics, Delta variant, and fast fashion

After my post about Victoria scratching my face last week I was worried people might think we have a psychotic cat and although she’s prone to occasional acts of violence, she’s mostly a very lovable cat. She just likes affection on her terms. Here’s proof.

She’s not very fond of being held unless she’s in the right mood.

Ben had his second AstraZeneca vaccination jab over the weekend and it was much better than the first time around. He was very ill after the first shot with a fever and he felt unwell for a good 48 hours. This time he just felt a bit achy and tired.

It’s not a minute too soon either with the Delta variant taking off in the UK. This variant is very concerning as it’s more transmissible and the early evidence suggests it’s also more virulent. One shot of the vaccine is also proving insufficient so they’re trying to move forward second doses and I’m hoping to get mine soon.

Today I had to get Elizabeth some blue leggings and a blue and white striped t-shirt for an end of term highland dance performance. At first I looked online but I couldn’t find any one shop that sold both items and I didn’t want to order half from one shop and the other half from another as then there’d be two sets of delivery to pay for. While I was in town I decided to duck into Primark. I’ve always hated this shop even though I’d never bought anything from it before which is possibly a bit biased of me. I just felt it epitomised fast throwaway fashion at a time when we should be recycling and taking better care of our environment.

Primark is the only large clothing shop left on Union Street in Aberdeen. I shop on Union Street a lot, indeed every week, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before I went into Primark. I despise soulless shopping malls even more and Primark, to its credit, is still on the high street.

I found some navy leggings almost immediately and nearly choked when I saw the price: £2. It wasn’t even on special. Even the charity shops can’t compete with that. According to the label it’s made in Bangladesh with organic cotton.

The t-shirt cost £3:50. I immediately felt angry that they sell clothes so cheaply. This price surely does not reflect the cost of externalities, which as I remember from university economics, is the cost to third parties who did not agree to incur such a cost. In this case it would be pollution from manufacturing and the contribution to carbon emissions. We all pay for this whether we buy the £2 leggings or not. Then I wondered how they could possibly pay workers for the manufacturing.

When I got home I decided to do a bit of research and although it’s still fast fashion it’s not as bad as I feared. Primark have at least been making an effort to lift their green credentials. For instance they have clothes recycling bins in-store, they have free water fountains because they don’t sell single-use plastic water bottles, and they use sustainably sourced cotton in many products. Apparently a House of Commons environmental audit committee put them on a par with M&S when it comes to environmental concerns. I suspect many of their products come from the same factories that supply other high street chains but Primark simply sells the products for less as they’ve managed to keep costs lower. Perhaps that’s why all the other stores are closing down and Primark now stands alone on Union Street in Aberdeen?

Fortunately I don’t have to buy clothes for Elizabeth very often as she gets a lot of hand-me-downs from friends’ daughters. I prefer charity shops for myself and Daniel wears the same thing every day as does Ben. I will probably buy from Primark again as now that I know more about the company I think I may have been unfairly dismissive but I do think the environmental cost of fashion ought to be reflected in the price.

4 thoughts on “Cat pics, Delta variant, and fast fashion”

  1. Interesting comment about the cost to third parties who didn’t agree to it. The world is riddled with that cost from unfettered capitalism. I’m not opposed to capitalism, as I think must of us are wired to improve our lot if we can, but generally speaking we can’t be trusted to contain it without some sort of external gatekeeping, and that’s what has been missing.

    1. Well said. Factoring in the cost of externalities seems like a good way to keep things in check. But probably every country needs to do it otherwise it creates an unlevel playing field.

  2. Hi Rachel, thanks for the thoughtful post. I feel the same when I’m forced to buy new clothes for my kids. Primark’s ethical past has been awful so they are clearly trying to make amends. Good on you have rated them ‘Not Good Enough’ which is one better than the worst 🙂 This is a nice article on the subject: ‘Ultimately, the fact that Primark’s business model is based on creating huge amounts of short-lived, poorly-made fast fashion products inherently contradicts the values of ethical fashion and spells nothing but bad news for the environment, workers, and animals.’

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