While the price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, human rights and environmental costs have grown dramatically.
I went to watch The True Cost screening earlier in the month, an important documentary covering one of the most complex and urgent challenges of our time. Most of the people sitting in the audience were shocked by what they saw.
We hear about how the fashion Industry can exploit those in third world countries but as consumers we do not fully understand the true cost which often causes us to turn a blind eye.
What I am talking about here is how our purchase choices can affect other people’s lives and spoil the environment.
Examples highlighted in the movie included:
- Factory workers losing their lives in fires and putting their lives at risk in unsafe buildings simply because management wanted to make a quick buck instead of looking after their employees
- Workers getting bullied, harassed or even murdered for speaking out and fighting for their rights
- Communities struggling with disease and disability as a result of unsafe work environments
- Land fill and toxic pollution as a result of the chemicals being released into the atmosphere
It’s horrific but it’s true.
The current fashion business model which is generating millions per day is not creating a stable infrastructure or a sustainable business model that looks after its workers or environment.
You would think as the fashion brands earn more, they would be able to help factory workers out of poverty. Well that is not the case at all. And most are not even aware of how their business operations are affecting others and the world.
True Cost explores these issues and what we must do as conscious businesses and consumers.
As the owner of a social enterprise who sells flip flops in order to support a social cause, the documentary made me pay more attention to the issues and how I might be able to further improve the way I already do business. And also reach out and collaborate with other conscious businesses to make even more of a bigger impact in making the world a better place.
The issues the doco addresses are particularly dear to my heart after seeing the devastating consequences unethical treatment within the fashion industry affects children. Not having children of my own, it has further fuelled my desire to make a difference.
As the crew take their cameras all over the world, from organic cotton farmers, to sweat shops in Cambodia and press conferences with major fashion brands, it is sometimes hard to watch the film as we hear the truth, the true cost of the fashion industry and how it is impacting our environment and human life.
The creators of The True Cost say while this issue is not new, events in recent years have exposed exacerbated problems that can no longer be ignored.
The collapse of the factory at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh only furthered what informed and concerned advocates already know: an unregulated clothing industry creates unsafe and unsatisfactory conditions which can result in disaster and the loss of human life.
We are at a tipping point of critical concern and action, as more and more people are yearning to become involved in these human rights and environmental causes.
The choices we make now will set the precedent for how we do business in a more fully realized global economy, thereby affecting human rights, employment issues and the environment now and in the future.
As a business, it doesn’t matter which industry we are in we all have a responsibility to make sure we are looking after our planet and the people whom are in it. It is not enough to only be concerned with the bottom line or how much we have in our pockets. We have a greater responsibility to be more aware of how our actions and business practices are affecting the world.
I am also aware there are challenges and being a fairly new enterprise, I do not yet have access to all the resources to be at the level I desire to be.
However, by simply learning ways to do business better and understanding the issues is a start. And I have to say I am so much more aware of this global problem then I was before watching the film and I cannot stop thinking about it and ways in which I can do better.
I encourage you to watch the film if you haven’t yet and think about ways in which you might be able to create a more sustainable and ethical business contributing to an even better world.
Watch the trailer here:
And go to The True Cost website here to watch the documentary online.