Ethics in Clothing Production Part 2

As previously mentioned, the treatment of fast fashion workers could easily be described as “slave labor”. Workers are given terrible wages (often a fraction of a decent living wage, as much as 5 times less) and will often face abuse from personnel if deadlines aren’t met. What makes it even worse is the horrifying truth that often times to make ends meet, entire families will have to work in terrible conditions, including children. Currently there are over 150 million child workers in the world, and the fashion industry employs many of them. One heartbreaking example is the Sumangali scheme in India, in which young girls are hired and payed a wage to work in a textile factory for 3 to 5 years, after which they receive a lump sum that serves as their dowry. While in this system, the girls are forced to live in compounds and have very little contact with their families. Despite being forbidden, this is still a regular occurrence, and needless to say, should be stopped. This is happening on the other side of the world from those of us in the United States, but we see the results of these injustices in every fast fashion store. Besides the mistreatment by the people in this industry, the conditions of the workplaces themselves are also abysmal. There have been countless instances of garment factory disasters, including the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013, killing 1134 people. Workers are crowded into unstable buildings with little to no ventilation, being forced to breathe in fumes from the dyes of the fabric, as well as fiber dust. Or even non-fabric related fumes, like blasted sand, affects these workers. 50 people have died and thousands are sick from blasted sand inhalation in denim factories in Turkey. These things, coupled with the sheer number of people working in these factories has led to all kinds of accidents and injuries. On top of all these other issues, workers in garment factories often aren’t allowed to form unions. These workers have no representation, and the cycle continues.

This is the devastating reality of fast fashion, but as I’ve mentioned before, it is something so prevalent in our culture that it’s practically unavoidable. So what do we do? The first step is being aware that these problems exist. Reading as much as possible about these issues can create more awareness when the information is shared and more publicly available. Secondly, put pressure on stores to hold them accountable, or shop elsewhere, like secondhand shops. Thirdly, you can make donations to organizations fighting to better the conditions for these workers, and eventually put an end to fast fashion once and for all.

2 thoughts on “Ethics in Clothing Production Part 2”

  1. reading this is always so dishearting to see. I wish we had more awareness where I live about this stuff. We aren’t very educated on this sort of stuff out in the country.

  2. Thank you for drawing attention to this issue! I’ve heard people talking about it, but I have never heard of actual examples such as the ones you provided. The tips on how to take a stand against it were helpful to me as well.

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