How Not To Be An Arsehole #6: You Are What You Wear

 It’s depressing to admit it, but my life changed after a bored Sunday afternoon scrabbling through the list of documentaries on Netflix. I truly am a product of a digital generation.

On this particular afternoon I hesitantly began watching True Cost, a documentary about the devastating effects of fast fashion, in order to educate myself on the humanitarian injustices caused by heartless corporations and money-hungry businessmen who care little for anyone beyond themselves.

I didn’t for one moment think that this documentary would impact my life as much as it did, let alone that I would learn I was a direct participant of such horrendous acts of cruelty and mindless waste.

Fast fashion is the manufacturing of clothing that reflect catwalk trends but sell for reasonable prices. These are the clothes we see in high street shops such as Primark, Zara, H&M and Top Shop. For the western consumer there are no real negatives to fast fashion, except for the occasional poorly constructed garment.

The question that True Cost poses is this: who made my clothes? The answer may not be a secret but it is certainly not common knowledge.

97% of our clothes are made overseas, primarily in developing countries. Textile factory workers in places such as China, India, Turkey and Indonesia are paid as little as $10 a month under poor and often dangerous conditions to make products for big brand names. They are some of the lowest paid employees in the world and  their employers frequently violate their human rights in order to exploit cheap labour. On top of this, the unfair treatment of the cotton farmers in India who supply to fast fashion brands led to 5,650 suicides in 2014 alone.

The issues with fast fashion don’t end with the workers; the more research I have carried out on the matter the more frightening and far-reaching the problem seems to be. After oil and agriculture fast fashion is the most polluting industry in the world and with such high and unnecessary volumes of garments being made we are donating lots of it to third world countries, which is ruining their local clothes-making businesses.

All of this is pretty awful, but how can you become less of an arsehole and stop contributing to the fast fashion industry?

It’s not easy, that’s for sure, but here are my pro tips:

  1. Vote with your dollar and buy second-hand clothes from charity shops or Ebay. You can get some amazing finds for really low prices.
  2. Donate, sell or recycle unwanted clothes instead of throwing them away.
  3. Buy less. Do you need three black t-shirts? Twelve pairs of trousers? More than one coat?
  4. Avoid throwaway trends and purchase classic styles and cuts.
  5. Buy from sustainable fashion brands. They often cost more but they will last so much longer and are well-made.
  6. Make your own clothes… I can’t do this personally as I am severely lacking in the required skills, but I do plan to alter some things I have found in charity shops that are too big.

You can check out True Cost on Netflix. I also highly recommend reading Threadbare by Anne Elizabeth Moore, a graphic novel that really goes into depth on the subject of fast fashion. Check out Shelf Abuse’s review of it here.

Emily created Dystopic in July 2012 after requiring an outlet for her love of dystopian and apocalyptic fiction. She is currently working on her debut novel ‘These Unnatural Men’ to be published in 2017.

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