4 years ago a building collapsed and lives were lost. I didn’t know any of the people, yet for me and so may others, this event was a moment that made us stop and think of our own actions in life. The tragedy of this story is that this wasn’t a result of a natural disaster, which would have been bad enough, this was a building that failed health and safety checks, with the most devastating of consequences. The disaster I’m talking about is the Rana Plaza tragedy.
Our desire to buy cheap fashion had resulted in garment workers being expected to meet unrealistic production targets, factory owners competing with each other to reduce costs, win contracts and produce clothes at low cost, yet still line their pockets. And who suffered: the workers.
Low wages, poor working conditions and the threat of being sacked for joining a union or staff association are a daily struggle for garment workers. The rights that many take for granted, rights that were hard fought and won in Britain are still being fought by garment workers and many others across the world.
We cannot stand by when there is an injustice such as this which we are playing a part in. Everything we buy, clothes or anything really we need to ask ourselves who is paying the price. Does my low cost top mean that a mother has to work log hours just to survive and isn’t there for her children growing up. What if it was my friends or family working in those conditions? What if it was me?
We can bring about change. We can tell companies that we want accountability and transparency. We want to know that at each step of the way, every worker has been treated with dignity and paid a fair price for the work they do. If you haven’t seen the documentary ‘The True Cost’ then I invite you to do so, and after watching it join the Fashion Revolution.
I’ve been trying to make small changes too, like passing on all my old(er) clothes to charities to ensure that they get re-used. I’ve also been trying to only buy when I need to, so instead of having lots of pairs of shoes or multiple jackets that look the same, I’m trying to only buy and use what I need.