Last year, when I had the opportunity (haha read: assignment, chore, etc.) to write a nine page research paper on a persuasive current issue of my choice, I immediately knew I wanted to pick the fair trade movement. As I became heavily involved in this movement, I also grew strongly in favor of the movement for sustainable and ethical alternatives to the clothing we currently wear. There are so many injustices around the globe when it comes to the wages garment workers are paid, working conditions, and the age of these workers making the clothing. However, despite this dismal fact, there is also hope.
April 24th marked the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza catastrophe in Bangladesh. On April 24th, 2013, thousands of workers started their morning in their eight story clothing factory just like any other day. Around 9am, the entire building began to collapse. Once the building had fully collapsed, a total of 1,133 lives were claimed, and still many more were left with serious injuries.
For me, I’ve read stories about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in NYC in the early 1900’s and think about what a tragedy this was when it claimed the lives of so many garment workers. But, when you think about it, great strides were taken after this happened to improve the terrible conditions that garment workers suffered at the time. That fire was over a century ago. However, just one year ago, halfway across the world, over ten times the amount of lives were claimed yet again for terrible garment factory conditions. This should not be happening in 2013. 2014. At all.
Then, I found out about an organization called Fashion Revolution. Simply put, Fashion Revolution desires “to use the power of fashion to catalyse change and reconnect the broken links in the supply chain and start the beginning of an industry-wide transformation towards a more sustainable future.” I am so excited to know about such a organization and I personally want to challenge you to ask yourself the question, “Who made my clothes?”. Each clothing purchase you make isn’t simply a sweater at Forever xxi or a skater skirt bargain at H&M. Each clothing purchase you make becomes a part of your identity, because each clothing purchase tells a story. I don’t know about you, but I want the clothing I purchase to tell a story of valuing profit & creativity all while placing human life at the top of that list. By your clothing, whose story are you telling?
side note ~ in my fair trade//ethical clothing solutions research, I found this short film on how each clothing purchase really does become part of your identity. It’s only three minutes ~ check it out & see why I am so passionate about this subject!