Anyone that knows me knows I love a good deal. I love getting a t-shirt or a dress for $5 and walking away feeling like I got a bargain. Brands like Forever21, H&M, and Zara are examples of fast fashion because they create so many products so quickly to keep up with trends and changing ideas of cool and sexy.
I would buy so many clothes online for so cheap, and then love getting all of the clothes at once. It’s as if I felt rich by the number of things I could get for so little. But if I was only paying $5 for a t-shirt, that meant someone else had to be getting much less to make it.
I got thinking…
It’s so strange that people buy these clothes every day, all of the time, and yet never really think about the fact that other human hands created it. It’s like we assume these pieces of clothing popped up out of nowhere as if they were made by magical fairies of over-consumption.
I loved buying clothes, and I still do. But something in me is changing – especially when I learn about the ways women and children are treated in sweatshops. It’s nothing new though, we all know sweatshops exist but we block it out or ignore it to satisfy our own psyche and desires in a world that tells us we need these things.
If you saw my closet in high school, you’d see a jam-packed area with things I bought but have never even worn. Then I’d give the clothes away, not thinking about where they’d end up. Most textiles aren’t biodegradable, which means they sit in landfills and give out harmful chemicals for many years. Even if you donate clothes, they still end up eventually in the same place if they don’t sell.
How can I call myself a feminist yet take advantage of cheap female labor? How can I be so happy about a $5 t-shirt when the woman who made it gets paid $2 a day? The areas surrounding Bangladesh and India are sometimes so polluted by the clothing factories leaving chemicals in the water and air, that children are born with defects. Is this really worth it? For a cheap shirt?
How we can do better
Now, I am doing research on brands that pay their workers with fair wages, that listen to their workers and don’t profit from child labor. It’s really hard to feel like you can do anything about this, but as a consumer, you do have lots of power. What you choose to support is not only about your own morals but it is also about the people’s lives touched by your consumption. Instead of buying one t-shirt for $5 every month, instead buy 1 t-shirt every 6 months that won’t fall apart after a few wears, and that’s made by workers getting treated fairly. This way you save money and contribute your hard earned dollars to companies not trying to cheat men, women, and children in vulnerable places around the world.
To learn more about fast fashion and how to be a more conscious consumer check out these links: