Let me first start by saying that, I had no idea what the cheap fashion industry was doing to our world. Really, I mean I guess I should had thought on a deeper level about what we do with all of the extra clothes when they “go out of style”. I know my views on the society as a whole were quite deranged when I realized that I was part of the problem a long time ago, but then after still realizing that I could still be part of the problem I felt even worse. We as a family try to do everything we can to avoid adding to that landfill and be fulfilled with the satisfaction of minimalistic views. We tend to buy clothes from second hand stores only when we need them to avoid the demand of new clothes made with non-organic cotton and dyes, and if we do purchase new clothing we consider great companies such as Patagonia or Groceries Apparel who use organic cotton, recycled clothing and put their earnings towards a great cause in helping the earth.
To not realize or get sucked into greed as a business owner is a tough thing these days. There is a lot of competition in almost every industry, and under the corporate owners, there is always someone smaller working for less. Every bit of our dollars count when we purchase something. Your either paying for someone’s family to strive, or for a good cause like Sand Cloud is doing by saving marine life with every purchase or your just paying for another large boat for a large business owner.
Recently I had the opportunity to watch yet another life changing documentary about the clothing industry titled The True Cost. It has opened my eyes so much more to the mentality of greed and consumerism and how much my dollar makes a difference in this world. As someone who is enthusiastic about our footprint on earth, I never even thought about the idea of shopping.
“The world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. This is 400% more than the amount we consumed just two decades ago. As new clothing comes into our lives, we also discard it at a shocking pace. The average American now generates 82 pounds of textile waste each year. That adds up to more than 11 million tons of textile waste from the U.S. alone.” From the True Cost Website: Environmental Impact.
How insane does that sound? That is an amazing amount of clothing. Could you imagine, not only how much money we would save, but how much of the landfill we could avoid piling up if we just thought more deeply about what were doing with our clothes and holding onto them for a bit longer?
The Cotton and our Health..
“Cotton represents nearly half of the total fiber used to make clothing today. More than 90% of that cotton is now genetically modified, using vast amounts of water as well as chemicals. Cotton production is now responsible for 18% of worldwide pesticide use and 25% of total insecticide use. The largely untested impacts of these chemicals on both the land and human health are beginning to be questioned by those working in the industry. As our skin is the largest organ, these chemicals are passed into the bloodstream of the people wearing these clothes.” From the True Cost Website: Environmental Impact.
As someone who is also passionate about growing their own food, making our own home products from shampoo, toothpaste and medicine, it would only make sense that I should also question the quality of my clothing as well. Not only is it bad for us to be using these things with so many chemicals for health reasons, but its totally not good for the environment either. Were leaching our soils of proper nutrition for growing our food and clothing. Food is such a vital part of our being. REAL food. And at the cost of our land and soil, were purchasing without thought to make ourselves “fashionably acceptable”.
The Leather Industry, Animals and Cancer….
“Leather production is increasingly linked to a variety of environmental and human health hazards. The amount of feed, land, water and fossil fuels used to raise livestock for leather production come at a huge cost to the health of our world. In addition to raising the livestock needed, the leather tanning process is among the most toxic in all of the fashion supply chain. Workers are exposed to harmful chemicals on the job, while the waste generated pollutes natural water sources leading to increased disease for surrounding areas. Studies have found that leather tannery workers are at a far greater risk of cancer, by between 20% – 50%. ” The True Cost Website: Environmental Impact.
This here is by far the most disheartening. We already know that most of the nation puts animals before ourselves for food without realizing the environmental impacts were making, but leather most don’t even think twice about. Not only are we raising animals to wear their skin around for fashion, but were putting the workers lives at risk too. Most of these farmers and workers who process the animals and leather don’t have any other choice of place to work as most of this work is done in other countries. Why should someone else have to risk their livelihood to complete at the stake of our fashion desires? And yet we still continue to wear leather without thinking twice about the chemical processing or animals who sacrificed their lives unwillingly for it.
“We are increasingly disconnected from the people who make our clothing as 97% of items are now made overseas. There are roughly 40 million garment workers in the world today; many of whom do not share the same rights or protections that many people in the West do. They are some of the lowest paid workers in the world and roughly 85% of all garment workers are women. The human factor of the garment industry is too big to ignore; as we consistently see the exploitation of cheap labor and the violation of workers’, women’s, and human rights in many developing countries across the world.” The True Cost Website: Human Rights.
“Global fashion brands are bigger than ever before and with annual revenues in the billions, they are now part of an almost 3 trillion dollar a year industry. These brands are continuing to hugely profit from their use of cheaper labor in foreign countries. They also represent a great opportunity for change, to use their influence to benefit their workers. As customers in an increasingly disconnected world, it is important that we feel connected to the workers who make our clothes, as well as inform brands that we care about these people and their voice.” The True Cost Website: Human Rights.
The Working Conditions…
On April 24th, 2013, over 180 Workers were Killed in Deadly Garment Factory Collapse in Bangladesh. An eight-story building named Rana Plaza collapsed at 9:00am. Many more workers were missing and an estimated 1000 workers were injured. It was talked about that most of the workers went on for days trying to inform the owner and their boss of cracks in the walls and the conditions of the building that were alarming, but no one listened. At the expense of all of these peoples lives, the building collapsed and many were injured, killed and missing for days.
No amount of fashion is as important to me as the lives of these people. They have close to no other choice but to try and make a living to feed their families and work long hours in horrid working conditions for us to look good. Everything is at stake here. Their lives, their families, their environment, their drinking water. Its all polluted.
Many turn away at the site, and not all of us can afford to go over to these countries and help them ourselves but that does not mean that we are completely helpless. As we are over here, we can try to make a stand by reducing our waste and making more conscious decisions on where we get our clothing from. Because as we see here in these photos, the cheap fashion industries use these poor people for their own profits, and I do not want to be a part of the feeding to this industry. Many of us could not imagine catastrophic events such as this happening in our lives, but just because we don’t have the same conditions here where we live, doesn’t make it anymore acceptable or enjoyable to those who do live in these countries. If someone argues that if we stop purchasing items from these companies then these people will run out of jobs, that is untrue, there are better companies to work for than these… Next time you go out to make a decision on clothing purchase ask yourself a few questions.
“Who is getting paid for this?”
“Where is it coming from?”
“Is this good for my health and the people who made it without chemicals?”
“Do I truly NEED this item.”
Please make a conscious effort and watch the life changing documentary. The True Cost.
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