Extinction Rebellion protesters storm Penneys and Brown Thomas

Group aimed to highlight the climate impact of ‘fast fashion’ on third day of protests

Extinction Rebellion Ireland (XRI) mounted a series of protests in Dublin on Wednesday, the third day of their non-violent disruptive action, which were focused on large retail outlets and highlighting the climate impact of "fast fashion".

The XRI "rebels" left their encampment at Merrion Square and embarked on a silent "fashion walk" via Trinity College Dublin to O'Connell Street, where they entered Penneys department store.

Models presented fast fashion facts using handmade textiles and upcycled fashion magazine cutups to customers in the store. The entourage then travelled to Grafton Street and entered Brown Thomas to deliver the same message.

They also placed handwritten fast fashion facts in new clothing pockets displayed in several “fast fashion” shops in the city centre.


Raise awareness

"We staged this action to both raise awareness among the general public, and to hold fast fashion companies based in Ireland accountable for the products they produce and the environmental impact their practices generate," said XRI spokesman Manuel Salazar.

Globally, carbon emissions from the fashion industry result in 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined, he said.

“It is the second largest cause of global greenhouse gas emissions, and it continues to grow at an alarming rate, doubling in the last 15 years. The fashion industry is also one of the largest pressures on freshwater resources on the planet.”

Their action was targeted at consumers just as much as fashion outlets, Mr Salazar stressed. None of the protesters were escorted out of shops and there were no arrests, he added.

XRI called on the Government to impose transparency and environmental labelling on companies in the clothing industry to provide consumers with information on the environmental footprint of their products.

“We are also calling on the Government to follow the European Clothing Action Plan report’s recommendations and take action to tackle environmental issues produced in the process of producing fashion and promote ways of extending longevity of clothes,” Mr Salazar said.

Rush hour

Ireland needed to also follow the EU packaging and waste directive and accelerate the creation of schemes around circular economy that ensured textiles were collected separately for recycling, he added.

Earlier, 20 protesters picketed outside the premises of CMC–Coal Marketing Company at Fumbally Lane, Dublin. Dressed in black, they alleged the coal sector had blood on it hands, given the fossil fuel's impact on the planet.

During evening rush hour, another group of protesters blocked traffic at the corner of Merrion Square nearest the National Gallery. Though there was a Garda presence, no arrests were made during the early stages of the sit-down.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times