Extinction Rebellion protest in Bonn Activists stick over labels in fashion stores

Bonn · The Bonn chapter of Extinction Rebellion is pasting over price tags at well-known fashion chains. In doing so, the environmental organisation criticises the production of and trade in "throwaway fashion" and promotes thoughtful consumption.

 "3,500 toxic substances are used by the textile industry to dye clothes like these": This and other notices are written on the labels pasted over in Bonn.

"3,500 toxic substances are used by the textile industry to dye clothes like these": This and other notices are written on the labels pasted over in Bonn.

Foto: Privat/Extinction Rebellion

With critical labels against label fraud - this is how the campaign of the Bonn-based group Extinction Rebellion can be described, which has now attracted attention in the pre-Christmas trade. According to the group, about 500 price tags of garments in branches of three well-known fashion chains were pasted over in the first week of Advent. In doing so, the environmental organisation wants to draw attention to what it sees as the environmentally damaging "throwaway fashion" of the targeted chains H&M, Primark and New Yorker, as well as to short-sighted consumer behaviour.

With self-made photos and a press release, the Bonn section of the globally active initiative went public. It is not known whether and how many people in the shops noticed the action.

Advent as a fitting moment for criticism

Heike Prassel explained the timing of the action to our editorial team by saying that the Advent season and the accompanying "Christmas consumer rush" had been chosen. "Especially for the holidays and New Year's Eve, people buy fashion textiles with Christmas motifs, for example, which are then often only worn once," says the Bonn-based spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion. "Since the textile industry has such a significant impact on CO2 emissions, and consumers can influence this without major restrictions, we want to keep this issue in focus."

Of the companies affected in Bonn, only H&M commented in writing on Monday in response to an enquiry from our editorial team - though not on questions about the action itself. Instead, a spokesperson indirectly addresses Extinction Rebellion's criticism that the low-cost fashion stores only receive a small portion of items from sustainable production: "Basically, we want to offer fashion and quality at the best price and in a sustainable way. We use materials from more sustainable sources in all our concepts and collections." Currently, he says, this is already the case for 65 percent of the merchandise. By cutting out middlemen and using efficient logistics, he says, the affordable prices can be offered to the clientele.

Is "fast fashion" really a clean business?

Many so-called "fast fashion" companies boast about their commitment to sustainability. H&M, for example, has been regularly launching a collection with a corresponding label for several years: "We firmly believe that more sustainable fashion should be accessible to everyone, regardless of the size of their wallet." However, international organisations and the media repeatedly report on abuses in manufacturing, transport and the payment of workers in the production countries.

Extinction Rebellion in Bonn is not afraid of possible legal consequences. "The companies could complain about damage to their labels, although here the insignificance is likely to play a role," Prassel believes. The organisation's own legal experts inform the activists about the possible consequences before such actions, says the spokesperson. The "rebels" are more concerned about the climate crisis than about repression. (Original text: Alexander Barth / Translation: Mareike Graepel)

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