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Ugly Christmas sweaters with a cause


The plastic pollution-themed ugly sweater.

HELSINKI, Finland – In recent years, the most talked about fashion phenomenon during the holiday season has been the “ugly Christmas sweater” trend. Now the seasonal garment has been turned into something more than a mere fashion statement.

As an attempt to keep important matters in the public eye, Helsingin Sanomat, the largest newspaper in the Nordics, has launched a series of ugly Christmas sweaters depicting the year’s ugliest news topics.

Instead of garish designs, the ugliness in the ugly truth sweaters is more due to the subject matters presented. The series comprises five pullovers and depicts some of the past year’s ugliest news topics: climate change, plastic in our oceans, war, sexual harassment and technological manipulation.

Introduced under the tagline “The truth may be ugly, but it never goes out of style”, the collection reminds people that there is no matter that journalism should turn a blind eye to.

“Truth is the cornerstone of journalism, no matter how ugly it is. We can’t shy away from topics that are difficult, in your face or hard to swallow. That’s why this Christmas we are wearing them on our sleeve, literally. It is our responsibility to bring these matters into the public consciousness and keep them there as long as they remain unsolved”, says Kaius Niemi, the paper’s senior editor-in-chief.

The shirts will accompany a set of articles published in Helsingin Sanomat that take a look at each subject in detail. They will also be sent to a number of people who have contributed to resolving each matter.

The highly limited collection of 100 per cent wooll sweters have been produced locally in Finland, in the small town of Lieto.

The ugly truth sweaters are not the first time Helsingin Sanomat has taken a stand for important matters. Last summer, in an act to defend freedom of the press, the paper welcomed presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to the Land of Free Press ahead of their Helsinki Summit.

A series of outdoor ads spread out on the presidents’ route displayed the paper’s past headlines regarding both leaders and their relationship with the media. The stunt sparked a debate on the state of press freedom that continues still today.


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