In my opinion, it isn’t fair that we don’t see the story behind every single thing we buy. Because, everything we buy has an impact. That impact can be low (which I prefer of course), and it can be extremely high. It can be horrific to see, but also beautiful. Today I want to talk about a product of which we don’t see the impact. It’s fast fashion. Because there is a way to see what’s behind your clothes most of the time, in a series called Sweatshop.
What is fast fashion?
Before I knew more about sustainability and living a low-impact life, I didn’t know what fast fashion was. It didn’t have a name, because I thought it was normal. Now that I know, that makes sense. Fast fashion is everywhere, and in the city where I live, Enschede, there is no other type of fashion. Slow and sustainable fashion for example. I didn’t know that there was a difference. To me fast fashion was normal. I didn’t know that a new collection almost every week wasn’t sustainable, I didn’t know about all the chemicals they use to make the clothes, and the maybe the most important of all: I did not know who made my clothes. And that was all normal. Now, I call it fast fashion. Unsustainable and cruel.
Why should I know who made my clothes?
It is important to me to know who made my clothes. And not just my clothes, but everything. Because, they work for something I buy. So, when I purchase something I’m supporting their condition, in whichever that may be. If the conditions of his or her life are bad, I’m supporting that. I’m enabling the company to treat people in a wrong way. That’s why I should know. So I can choose what kind of company I should support. I’ve said it before, you vote with your money every day. And so, you should know what you’re voting for.
Fast fashion and labor
In the fast fashion industry, which I used to consider as normal, people are treated horrible. They have to work long days, 12 to 16 hours, 6 or more days a week. They earn very little money, even though they work so hard. The minimum wage in Bangladesh is 60 euros, a month! They need at least 294 to live, so many people die of starvation. The conditions they work in are horrible too, they have little to no rights. I urge you to see the documentary The True Cost, to see it for yourself.
‘There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it causes hunger and unhappiness’ – Ghandi
The series sweatshop
In the series called Sweatshop, teens are taken to Cambodia. To see with their own eyes, what they are supporting with their money. Among them is a fashion blogger on Youtube, so she owns a lot of clothes. The show has two seasons now, since the first one was such a succes. I’ll sum up the first season, to give you an image of the show. Each episode is about 10 minutes. It is short, but it means it won’t be time consuming to watch, but you’ll still learn a lot.
Episode 1 – In episode one you’ll get to know the young adults who will go to Cambodia. How they live and maybe even more important, what they think about fashion and how it’s made.
Episode 2 – In episode two the young adults live with one of the garment workers. They see what their houses look like and how they live. They discover some more about Cambodia.
Episode 3 – In episode three the young adults see how the people working in the fast fashion industry live. They sleep in one of their houses and go along with them to work. To see what it’s like very single day.
Episode 4 – They have to cook a meal and buy supplies for themselves after they got the money a garment worker makes a day. They find out how little it is and that they can’t even buy a toothbrush.
Episode 5 – In the last episode of the season the young adults will reflect on their journey. Also, they’ll speak to some individuals who try to do something about the unfair situations.
What stunned me the most, was their attitude in the beginning, when they arrived. They saw how these people lived, but still they didn’t think it was horrible. They thought the people were happy and it was supposed to be like that. Rich people rich, poor people poor. But then, near the end they all switched completely. In the end they saw that this isn’t a life, for anyone.
You should watch it
If you buy any clothes, and I bet you do, I think you should see the series. After you’ve seen who makes your clothes if you buy fast fashion, you can make a good decision. Do I want to support this or do I want to make their life better? It’s all in our hands, if we demand better, they produce better. Then everybody can earn a fair amount of money and not be exploited. We can stop this, together! We have the power and money to make this change. In the Netherlands we are rich, very rich, and most people forget that all the time. We should make this change.
Then what’s the alternative?
There is one thing about the series which I do not like, nor think it’s true. They talk about the responsibility of the brand, like H&M, and how they should change. Yes, it’s their responsibility, but they’re not going to change. As you’ve seen they do not want to change, because they only care about money. They’ve never cared that the concept of people dying for their money was wrong in the first place, so they never will. It really makes me sick to my stomach. We should not try to change these companies in my opinion, we should boycott them and support other companies. Companies who do care, and have, since the first they they’ve operated.
The alternative is there! It’s called fair fashion, as the name says it, it is fair. And the fair fashion industry is growing very fast. Fair fashion is more expensive most of the time if you compare it to one item in the fast fashion industry. When you’ve seen the show, you know why that it. You can’t make a t-shirt for 10 euros without anyone suffering, you just can’t. But the idea of fair fashion is also slow fashion. You don’t need that many clothes, you just need a few good clothes. So less is the answer too. Fair fashion has much better quality most of the time, so it’ll last you way longer. So eventually, if you can wear it more than fast fashion, it is cheaper.
You can watch the series Sweatshop here.
Have you seen the series Sweatshop?