I’ll admit it; I love clothes shopping. Despite having a closet and a dresser overflowing with clothing, whenever I pass by a shop I am usually compelled to go in a browse around. While the status of my checking account is the largest influencer on whether or not I can indulge in a fashion purchase, I have become more aware of the bigger picture. The “fast-fashion” industry has a detrimental effect on our global environment, perpetuates social inequality, and continues to treat garment workers unfairly through inhumane working conditions and low wages (despite major fashion houses grossing record profits each year!).
The Netflix documentary, The True Cost, examines the various elements of the fashion industry and provides an in-depth, first-hand approach into he effects of corporate greed. Understandably, as the cost of living continues to increase and wages remain stagnant, consumers are always on the hunt for the next deal. There should be, however, more important factors to consider prior to making a purchase other than the price. The sourcing of raw materials which go into each garment has significant impacts on our planet. Toxic chemicals are used while growing cotton. Chemicals used in leather tanneries are carelessly drained into nearby rivers and streams, completely destroying the ecology and poisoning animals and people. A chemistry experiment of sorts is being conducted on the fabrics which drape our bodies. Many are coming forward with claims that toxic substances within their clothing have led to a disease diagnosis.
Millions of people in developing nations are being exploited in unsafe warehouses and sweatshops. These days, it seems that each week a story comes out of Bangladesh or India telling of building collapses, factory fires, and other horrific tales of garment worker plight. The true cost of fashion is beyond the number on the garment tag. Behind every article of clothing is a person who worked long hours in usually unfavorable conditions with little pay. Every human deserves opportunities to earn a decent living and live a life of fulfillment and dignity.
Ways to help:
- Become a conscious shopper and only buy clothes when you really need to. This will not only limit time spent aimlessly strolling through shops but will limit frivolous spending.
- Refrain from shopping at large, “fast-fashion” stores such as Forever 21, H&M, Zara, and Urban Outfitters
- Purchase items from reputable sustainable and eco-friendly brands. This list provides a quick guide for 35 Fair Trade & Ethical Clothing Brands.
- Support your local thrift shops and give a new life to second-hand apparel. This website will let you know which thrift shops are near you!
- Stay abreast with the latest news and policies which deal with the fashion industry. Check out the Clean Clothes Campaign on ways you can contribute and make the world a better place for the world’s 40 million garment workers.
- Next time you’re going shopping, ask yourself:
really worth this?
What are your thoughts on the “fast-fashion” industry? Do you believe clothing manufacturers will ever be compelled to forgo their harmful practices?