There are two truths that precede this post.
The first is that I am staunchly, whole-heartedly, unapologetically, no exceptions pro-life.
The second is that I understand documentaries have an agenda, but this particular film’s agenda lines right up with mine, so that made this all so very convenient. wink.
image via dollar photo club | saratm
Ever since Mike and I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, we have been looking at our consumer habits much more closely. We didn’t just donate a few things here and there. We got rid of almost half of our belongings, and we are attempting to keep it that way. We’ve noticed that, yes, we have regretted some of the things we gave away, but the freedom of having less has been much more worth it.
Even more worth it is our new outlook on consumption. For years, heck, my whole life even, I have gone through fits where I purged tons of “stuff” from my room or my apartment or house. I didn’t want all of these belongings, and I didn’t want to feel attachment to possessions. But, stuff kept creeping back in.
We all know why that happens. Products promise to fix problems in our life, but, well, they don’t. Instead we are left with more stuff to take care of (goodbye, time), and less money in our accounts. It’s what our society is built on. It’s really hard to get away from. I still struggle with this. I want all the stuff. This will be a lifelong process of unlearning my poor consumption habits.
What I’ve come to realize after our great and final purge (please, God), is that clothing is one of my weaknesses. Raise yo hand up if that is you too. After watching The True Cost, my resolve to fix this part of my life became firm…
But man, can I burn through Target tees and other cheap, expendable clothing. After all, it’s only meant to last for a season, right? But, where is all of that cheap clothing coming from? Sweatshops and poor working conditions are not foreign concepts to us, but they are certainly things that are easier to not think about than to put in the front of our minds when making purchases.
Cheap clothing has its advantages: people who are on a tight budget are able to afford new clothing at these cheap prices, and many people who come in contact with this clothing (from harvest to retail) are making money in the process.
Here is where my problems come in.
Do we accept the fact that workers are being paid pennies per day working in dangerous conditions so that we can fill our closets? Do we tell ourselves that these people need work otherwise they would have no money at all? Is it ethical to justify the abuse and sadness that these humans put up with day in and day out by saying, “well, they are lucky to have a job?”
Are there other alternatives? I can’t fix the garment industry on my own. But, there are ways we can make noise with our dollars. There are other places we can put our money. And yes, that may mean a worker from Bangladesh is not seeing work immediately, but it will also mean that companies are forced to change the way they do business. We cannot accept the fact that a mother must give up her child so that she can make less than a dollar a day in a garment factory where she plays the odds each day of whether she will die from a building fire or chemical exposure.
The alternatives to our shopping desires certainly range in price. We can always buy second hand. This is my favorite way to make sure no new manufacturing is taking a toll on humans or the environment. But, if you are looking for something new, you’re going to pay the price. You’re going to pay that person’s wage and healthcare and so on. Which means you won’t be able to buy as much. But it begs the question: do you need more?
It boils down to a life issue. With this knowledge of where your clothes are coming from and how they are made, can you be pro-life while supporting fast fashion industry that puts profit and quantity over human life?
I think not.
A List of Better Alternatives
Please feel free to add more resources in the comment section. Or, if you know something about these companies that I don’t, let me know. I’m ready to learn!
some links affiliate