I was somewhat aware of the impact of fashion on our social and environment lives. Since the boom of fast fashion, consumerism has hit a new plateau and this will only keep growing if we do not take the time to understand that process of garment making and the impact it has on people’s lives. I was a little bored yesterday and decided to slouch on the couch and watch something off of Netflix. I am usually a diehard fan of documentaries, so when I saw they recently added The True Cost; I was super thrilled as I wanted to watch it a while ago.
The True Cost is a documentary about the effects and consequence of fast fashion on our society. This is truly a must watch movie because it teaches you to open your eyes to hopefully make ethical choices when purchasing clothes.
The twisted process behind garment making is the reason why I decided to no longer be part of the mass production world. I absolutely refuse to be responsible for the destruction to the environment or be part of the oppression of the factory workers involved. Now, before I go in too deep in to the subject, I want to explain a little bit to y’all what fast fashion is really about…
Fast fashion is the unconventional way retailers now drop collections into stores. Instead of the typical spring/summer–fall/winter seasons presented…retailers now bring out 52 micro-seasons per year, which means new trends in stores every week. This in return means garments no longer have the quality or value they used to. This new trend causes fashion to be disposable (designed to be fall apart after a few uses), which means items are no longer in shape to be donated, which means items are trashed when no longer useful, which causes more waste on our planet. According to a recent study, an average American will throw away 82 pounds of textile waste each year. This waste is non-biodegradable and it just sits in landfills for years and years. In consequence, this causes even more pollution because this waste releases harmful gases into the air.
This movie helps us to see the process of consumerism, the works behind mass production and the consequences these things have on humans. The biggest victims of our irresponsible and monstrous consumption behaviors are the poor factory workers in developing countries. Bangladesh is one of the countries that suffer from the effects of our high demands in using fashion. Most of the workers are women and children and this unethical trade abuses their health and dignity. It is our responsibility as humans to insure that these workers are happy and live comfortably just like we do.
Major accidents like the Rana Plaza and Tazreen disasters could have been avoided if the factory owners stopped being so selfish into pressuring the women to work despite to obvious poor and unstable working conditions. You can read more about these 2 incidents here.
If you think about it, at the other end, every good we use or consume comes from poor workers that are unhappy. It is in our hands as consumers to be aware and help in treating them better; give them security and respect (sadly, these poor workers live off a merely 10$ monthly wage and suffer from psychological traumas).
There’s a part in the movie where they discussed how Kanpur plays a big role in producing leather for high end brands and it’s the biggest leather producer in the world. In order to be able to satisfy the companies’ needs, India is under more pressure to work faster to be able to cover the amount of products required. These leather factories have a lot of toxic waste dumped into the river, which is the only source of water available to many little towns. Unfortunately, their lives are dramatically affected and the results are staggering and deadly in some cases. The levels of toxicity (Chromium contamination) in the river (the only drinkable source they have) and the soil affect their health in ways I could never have imagined. The poor children who suffer from Cancers, skin infections, terrible mental issues and psychological distress make me triple think about where I put my money.
For anyone interested to know, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world after the oil industry. To know that I was a part in that makes me want to gag. The trading practices behind garment making are dirty and inhumane. I am super thankful that my conscious woke up after seeing the truth behind all this. This is one of the reasons why I decided that I will gravitate towards vintage as I am at least making an effort to recycle.
Sustainability and recycling is important and if each of us took a minute to look at the fashion industry with a brighter eye, we’d shed a light on the situation at hand and we’d truly make a difference in the world. My momma always says…it takes 2 hands to clap…so let’s all take a moment to ponder and make good shit happen!
Here are some links where you can learn more about the subject:
Until next time!!