Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of 1,133 factory workers in the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. To honor the lives of those lost in this terrible disaster, The EcoTheo Review will run a series entitled Fashion Matters in the coming weeks addressing the fashion industry.
Why care about fashion?
Unless awareness is raised and conditions are changed, disasters like Rana Plaza will continue to happen. Whether it be the sourcing of clothing materials or the implications inherent in our current worldwide distribution, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to the ills of the fashion industry. Like most ecological problems, the story is complex. As consumers, it is important for us to know more about this industry which we participate in every day. We are an important part of this story, and that means we might need to change our purchasing habits. After all,
Behind all of our clothes…there is an entire world… Once you see that world, you realize there is nothing ordinary about a simple tee shirt. 1
As you reflect on the events in Bangladesh last year, you’ll find a few short videos below to direct your thoughts. Take a few minutes to watch them and learn something about the garment industry.
Where to start
National Public Radio’s Planet Money looked at some of the pieces of the clothing industry in a series entitled Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt: The World Behind a Simple Shirt in Five Chapters. It’s a great prelude to these issues through the story of a t-shirt. In this series, we are introduced to the incredibly complex world of fashion as we follow step by step what goes into producing this (not-so) simple garment —from the material to the market. We can only begin to make educated choices once we understand the complexity of the ways our clothing has an impact.
Kate Fletcher, UK author, design activist, scholar and sustainable fashion guru suggests that we participate in a “new materialism.” She points out that our problem is not that we are too materialistic, but that “we’re not materialistic enough.” As stewards of this earth, we ought to truly value the materials on it and should seek to address issues like the Rana Plaza collapse; we should ask where the fibers in our clothing are sourced from; and we should seriously think through how the world’s economy is affected by the material goods which we have become so obsessed with, and yet dispose of so easily.