All causes start with a revolution – an incident inspires people to become passionate about a cause, and if they are passionate enough, they act.
The Rana Plaza Factory collapse on April 24th, 2013 led to 1,138 deaths and 2,500 injured workers. This is not the first modern-day factory tragedy, but it was devastating enough that the ensuing media coverage exposed the horrific and prevalent conditions within garment factories.
The working conditions within factories like Rana Plaza are dangerous and sometimes deadly; little care is put into planning and executing building construction, factories are packed in with workers and machines, and worker safety is hardly considered. In every aspect of production, corners are cut to increase profits while sacrificing workers’ well-being.
Do you wear clothes, make clothes, and/or sell clothes? Since you are reading this blog, you likely participate in the clothing industry in one or a few of these ways. The Fashion Revolution begun when a group of people decided that the fashion industry’s standards of worker treatment is not acceptable.
Maybe you own a piece of clothing that was made at Rana Plaza or another Bangladeshi factory – we definitely do.
My lack of awareness of what it is like to work in a garment factory in a country that lacks regulation and enforcement of workers’ rights led me to purchase products that benefitted me and my wallet, but hurt those involved in their production.
Walmart (where most Americans buy their clothing), is characteristically involved in outsourcing labor to Bangladesh and China. For most of us, buying clothing in a local Walmart is far more accessible than finding a fair trade boutique or purchasing from one online. Of course, economics are a huge player in people’s purchases – some simply do not have the means to spend extra cost associated with accessing and purchasing from ethical brands.
The goal of the Fashion Revolution is solving the lack of accessibility people have to ethical brands and educating about why purchasing from ethical brands is so important.
It is time for us to join in the Fashion Revolution and enact a lifestyle change (unless you already shop sustainably – in that case, yay you 👏🏽)! This can be done in many ways: from exclusively purchasing products from ethical brands, to writing letters to companies, urging them to mindfully source labor, to getting active on social media and educating everyone you know about the detrimental effects of purchasing from non-ethical clothing companies.
Before, we made purchases with only ourselves to consider – our wallets, our time, our accessibility. Now, however, we have so much more to think about: the dangerous working conditions, abysmally low wages, and enabling of generations of women and children to rely on finding work in these factories.
The first way that we started taking action was to stop buying.
When you’re in Walmart debating on purchasing that $3 tank top, remember why it is so cheap. Remember that your $3 is how much the Bangladeshi woman making these tank tops receives in a whole day for her labor. Consider, do you need that tank top? If you decide that you do not, save that money and look around for a tank top that is worth your purchase!
By definition, a revolution is radical. Choosing to purchase ethically-made products is a lifestyle change, and requires us to change our habits (which we all know is not easy!). If you need more inspiration, please visit the Fashion Revolution website – you will surely find motivation and extra resources from the information provided there.
Happy Fashion Revolution Week,
Pete and Kiana
Thanks so much for your read and please comment with any pointers and feedback – we love to know how we can improve and what we’re doing well!