Ethical Clothing Production

Put yourself in the shoes of the other person.

Have you ever brought a shirt from a fast fashion retailer for $10? Imagine if you were the person who was paid 20 cents to make it. 

Insight into the importance of ethical clothing production, the reason why garments (excluding vintage and accessories) are both designed and made in house to order, as either one offs or in small quantities on the south coast of NSW, Australia. 

 

Ahh, the grind... Monday's, who hates them? 

As we sit in stagnant traffic on either the bus, train or car on our way to work, school or uni, our minds can't help but gravitate towards what awaits us upon our 9am arrival. Perhaps, you are dreading dealing with the long list of unanswered emails that have accumulated over the weekend whilst you were out with your friends? Or, maybe you have tuned out and are listening to your earphones, just as you will once you arrive at school and are listening to your teacher/lecturer ramble on about a topic that is not nearly as interesting as the goss from Saturday night - the same goss that you are now talking about with to your bestie as you text each other on your new iphone X.

Suddenly, you hear a loud bang, your attention diverts as you glance out the window. The local garbage truck bangs your neighbours bin on the ground after emptying the contents into the back. The same sized garbage bin of clothes is sent to landfill, every single second. That is 86,400 garbage bins full of clothing that are sent to landfill every, single day. 

Imagine, if your attention had drifted further from the garbage bin. If instead, for just one moment on one of those pesky Monday morning commutes, you pondered about what life would be like, if you were not so fortunate. If you had not been born into a life that has enabled you to study at school or university and then enter the workforce that gifts you an income to live a modest lifestyle, to afford the luxuries such a selection of your most desired outfits that you wish too wear to the next big event on your social calendar. 

Imagine, for just one moment, if instead, you were making them. Your back, arms and hands are aching after you have been sitting at the exact same sewing machine, sewing the exact same pattern piece, for the past 16 hours. Your mind drifts for a second, it strays from the extremely poor working conditions that surround you, for a moment you wonder what you and your friends are going to get up to this weekend? Then you remember that weekends do not exist because what you are doing now, is exactly what you will be doing for the next 6 days, until of course it is Monday again and the cycle starts all over again.

But not to worry, you do have one thing too look forward to, it is your big, fat paycheck that is soon to have your name all over it,  $20 AUD for the week's work you have just done - less than the cost of what the average Sunday brunch costs in Australia.

You then think to yourself, 'Well, the cost of living here is much less than it is in Australia, I must be able to live a pretty decent life with my new income'. Sadly, no. A garment worker needs 3.5 times that amount in order to live a decent life with basic facilities'.

Thank god, you realise, there is a silver lining in all of this. You no longer have to worry about how you are going to get your daughters, aged 8 and 10 years old, both to and from school. Instead, they will be forced to come to work with you to help you at the factory as you are paid so little, you can't even put food on the table as well as a roof over your head.

Finally, you become fed up with the life you are living and think to yourself, 'Why on earth am I putting up with this?'. You try and take a stance with your fellow coworkers to management. You are threatened, harassed and forced to leave your only option - your sole source of income and the only means you and your family have to survive in the poverty stricken country you have grown up in. You decide to take things further and are now at the wrong end of the barrel as the authorities try to silence you for protesting the despicable working conditions you are forced to endure. The reason why they refuse to help you? The garment manufacturing industry is the sole source of income that keeps the economy a float, primarily thanks too fast fashion giants. But hey, a little income is better than none, right?

The same industry produces 97% of the clothes that are imported from Asia to Australia, 85% will then be sent to landfill each year. Alongside other factors, this makes it a little easier to understand why this industry is the second biggest polluter, right after oil of course.

If there is one thing you take away from this, please remember to;

'Demand quality not just in the products you buy, but in the life of the person who made it.'

—Orsola de Castro, designer and cofounder of Fashion Revolution 

For anyone who has not yet seen, I highly recommend watching the documentary 'The True Cost'. 

 

References

1. https://sustainability.uq.edu.au/projects/recycling-and-waste-minimisation/fast-fashion-quick-cause-environmental-havoc

2. https://www.oxfam.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Labour-Rights-Still-in-the-Dark-Report.pdf

3.https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/bangladesh-rana-plaza-anniversary-fashion-revolution-day

4. https://ecowarriorprincess.net/2016/09/ethical-fashion-101-the-top-5-ethical-issues-in-the-fashion-industry/

5. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kqVlcUUj6sTcZ5EOJtXA8-hM-_L6u9Kn/view?omnisendContactID=5d4fb03760eca9ce271d2102&omnisendScopeID=5c979ee28653ed72595b7b9d_7_

6. https://www.eco-business.com/opinion/by-the-numbers-the-impacts-of-fast-fashion/

7. https://truecostmovie.com/learn-more/human-rights/

8. https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/2017/10/29/garment-workers-australia-fast-fashion-oxfam/