Before I watch the True Cost movie, before I praise how powerful it is, which I undoubtedly will, I want to talk about the facts. The facts about the true cost of the clothes we wear on our backs. Is the cost of fashion the human dignity and lives of garment workers? Is it the environment? The answer to both questions is clearly a resounding yes, but let’s look at the facts.
According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, who believe that a living wage is a human right, on the 29th of April 2015 $2.7 million was still needed to fulfill the fund of $30 million to compensate the survivors and families of the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster.The disaster killed over 1100 people and brought to light the deplorable conditions that garment workers are forced to work in… still. Why does it take such a disaster to cause change? Shouldn’t we want change just for the simple fact that everyone deserves a fair wage, good working conditions and to be treated like a human being? The Clean Clothes Campaign believes so and that’s why they’ve not only focused on the Rana Plaza disaster, but the recent factory fire in the Philippines and are targeting specific brands that claim to be “conscious” like H&M.
The environmental effects of the fashion industry are also a huge issue. According to Greenpeace, even four years after they launched their initiative asking fashion brands to detox their clothes (10% of the fashion retail industry is committed to the campaign), 64% of urban underground water is polluted in China and 80% of water pollution in Indonesia’s main river in the capital comes from textile production. The Environmental Justice Foundation’s Commodities Campaign also works to to reduce pollution and urges retailers and brands to track their supply chain in order to find out whether their products are produced in an ethical manner, both environmentally and socially.
The True Cost movie focuses on all of these aspects and more and now that I’ve done my research, I’m going to go watch it (and you should too!). If you’d like to do some further reading on the impact of the fashion industry on social and environmental aspects of our world, here are some excellent sources.