The fashion industry is one of the most taxing and destructive fields there ever has been. Did you know that, second to oil pollution, it’s the highest source of environmental contamination? The fashion industry is all about exploitation. There is not a single person who goes unscathed in the process of making and selling articles of clothing.
Let’s start with the farmers who produce the cotton. In places like Bangladesh, farmers are often working in already challenging environments. Unpredictable, dangerous weather subjects a person’s lifework to being destroyed by floods, or freak storms. Oh, and there’s the genetically modified seed component too. Designed to resist pests that affect the growth and quality of cotton crops, they veer on the pricier side. Combine that with other related factors, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Crippling debt is one of the reasons many farmers take their own lives. If that’s not bad enough, there’s still the pesticides that need to be sprayed on the crops. Dangerous chemicals that are known for causing a wide array of illness- mental and physical. This includes birth defects in unborn babies. Sometimes the government decides to take away land too. These people, these workers, labour tirelessly and receive nothing in return.
Who makes your fast fashion items? Often the poorest and most disadvantaged of people. The fashion industry is so built on greed that it’s practically a principle. Sadly, many companies spare little thought for workers and don’t tend to dwell on the process. As they long as they can get bulk product, cheap as chips, they are more than happy to turn a blind eye. So, they go to the most disadvantaged parts of the world to make the clothes they sell, because they know they’ll pay the least. Not all countries have minimum wages and not all have workers rights. Some places are so dirt poor that they’ll take on any business offered, even though they know it’s not worth it. They can’t afford not to.
Workers are treated horribly, and spent many hours each day in unsafe working conditions. Some garment factories even built illegal extra floors on top of buildings that are unable to support the extra weight. Take the Rana Plaza tragedy as an example. The day of the collapse, workers reported cracks in the building, but were forced to stay and work. I’m not sure what kept them there, but I’ve no doubt they were probably threatened with losing their jobs. That same day, over a 1000 people ended up dead. This is proof of what a ruthless, cruel industry fast fashion is.
The average wage of a Bangladeshi garment factory worker is around 21 cents per hour. Compare that to a job at McDonalds, where a teenage employee earns a little over $10 an hour. Times that by four and you’ve got the average amount that a worker earns in a month.
Fast fashion- clothes so cheap we throw them away without a second thought once they lose their appeal. This allows new clothes to constantly grace stores, turning people in mindless consumers who turn to materialism for a happy boost. But what a lie that is! Have things ever made you happy?
Cheap clothing we seem to love, but it’s a trap in itself. In purchasing such items, slave labour is supported and we don’t end up owning anything that lasts or has true value to us.
Are you surprised at just how un-glamorous the fashion industry really is? Because I know I am.
I’m not sure about you, but this is something I will not support. We need change, and lots of it. I’m calling on the people with status, the people who can initiate big change, but also people like you and me. People who care enough to stand up and speak like their very own life was dependant on it.
I refuse to wear the blood, sweat and tears of another person. The cost is human.