Extinction Rebellion student activists protest ‘fast fashion’


By Maggie Sawant, Students’ Union Correspondent

Activists encouraged onlookers to take the XR52 pledge not to buy new clothes for a year.

Bristol University students were amongst an estimated 4,000 Extinction Rebellion protesters who occupied Cabot Circus on Saturday, 30 May.

The protest was part of the XR52 campaign against the environmental impacts of the so-called ‘fast fashion’ industry. XR52's first call to action on 30 April was a 1-year boycott of new clothing, which aims to economically disrupt the fashion and textiles industry.

Member of Bristol's Extinction Rebellion student group were among the protesters who entered several commercial shop windows with statements including ‘Buck the trend’ and ‘Consumerism Kills’ written across their chests.

The protest also saw a pop-up catwalk in Broadmead and a mass die-in in the centre of Cabot Circus. Passers-by were encouraged to take, swap and repair second hand clothes which were laid out on the road.

Student activist Ellie Strangways, explained to Epigram the urgency of the protests, saying 'we need to start shaking people and telling them to wake up'.

''Fast-fashion' severely damages the environment. 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases are emitted as a consequence of textile production, making the textile industry a greater contributor to greenhouse gas emissions than international flights and maritime shipping combined.

'Further, the intensive cultivation of cotton crops leads to great loss of biodiversity: 22 per cent of the world’s insecticides and 10 per cent of all pesticides are applied to cotton crops.

'Textiles are also the largest source of both primary and secondary micro-plastics, accounting for 34.8 per cent of global micro-plastic pollution.'

Amy Gibbs, also a member of Bristol University Extinction Rebellion group, told Epigram she was 'pleasantly surprised' by the response of the public.

She said: 'Many people stopped to read the messages on our bodies and seemed really surprised and fascinated.

'Lots took photos and generally they were very positive. I think we definitely made everyday shoppers think more critically about the companies they support.'

These protests follow mass demonstrations held in April by Extinction Rebellion, during which Bristol student Luke Watson was arrested, after he climbed on top of a train in Canary Wharf station.  

Featured Image: Ellie Kenny

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