The True Cost (2015), a documentary by Andrew Morgan, is a must see for all ethical fashion lovers. The impact of the fashion industry on our planet and its people is thoroughly investigated by Andrew and his team. Using this documentary as a basis, I will summarise what fashion is doing to our world and what we can do to stop these practices, once and for all.
Worthless codes of conduct
After the Rana Plaza in Dhaka collapsed, killing 1129 people, a lot of consumers and big clothing companies carried on as they did before. Some companies signed voluntary codes of conduct but hardly any significant changes have occurred for the garment workers. “Voluntary codes of conduct aren’t worth the paper they’re written on”, according to Barbara Briggs, Director of the Institute for labour rights.
The second most polluting industry
Not only are the workers being exploited, our planet is too. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. Tons of waste water are spilt into lakes in developing countries and the amount of pesticides used for cotton keeps rising because of the re-engineered seed produced in the West. “Whole towns in the Punjab region in India are swallowed by epidemics of cancer, mental illness and physical handicaps because of pesticides”, says Dr Pritpal Singh.
Who is responsible?
We, as consumers, are also responsible. By giving in to the idea that more and cheaper clothing will make us happy we encourage big clothing companies to keep cutting corners. “The more people are focused on materialistic values, the more people say money, image, possession and status are important to them. But we need to remember possessing things isn’t going to make us happy”, explains Tim Kasser, PHD en psychology professor at Knox College.
So, what can we do about this? Shopping consciously is the first step. By supporting ethical brands you choose not to feed bottomless pockets of multinationals that couldn’t care less about the garment workers and our planet.
Secondly we should reconsider the amount of clothes we buy and cherish the pieces we purchase. Lucy Siegle hits the right notes when she says: ‘Fashion can never and should never be thought of as a disposable product’.
Watch the trailer of The True Cost here: