FAST-FASHION | CHILD ABUSE & TOXIC FABRICS
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Being a Fashion Journalism major, I started reading Women's Wear Daily in order to update myself on news and trends in the fashion industry. A week ago, I was enraged by a particular article with the headline "Primark Responds to Alleged Abuse Claims." Before even clicking on the headline to be directed to the entirety of the article, I wan angered. Why, in 2016, are we still hearing about factory worker abuse? Why is it that fast-fashion requires the diminishing of human rights of those in other countries? Regardless if these claims against Primark are alleged or not, something needs to be done.
It's bad enough that innocent people are being forced to work under conditions that are unsafe while being paid less than $1 a day. Just recently though, I read an article from the Huffington Post about how child labor is becoming an even bigger issue in these third-world countries. After doing further research on fast-fashion child labor, I was horrified with my findings: in over 13 countries around the world -- including India, Uzbekistan, the United States and Bangladesh -- about 170 MILLION children are forced into working conditions that are unsafe. A vast majority of the jobs given to children are in the textile category, either dying these fabrics or working with the cotton to create the garments. As emphasized in "The True Cost," the effects of this harmful cotton starts in the United States with farmers around the country. The cotton is first grown in the United States in which an abundance of pesticides are used via pesticide sprayers. These chemicals directly effect the health of those who are farming it. According to CNN Money, "250,000 cotton farmers have killed themselves in the last 15 years, partly as a result of going into debt to buy genetically modified cotton seeds." Soon after, the cotton is shipped to these third-world countries where children dye the fabrics using colorful toxins. These chemicals are placed on top of the already pesticide infested cotton, causing an even greater impact to health and well-being of the children handling it.
Changing the unethical ways of the fast-fashion industry require more than just ceasing your Forever 21 addiction.
- Purchasing organic clothing from stores that are "free-trade" helps minimize the amount of children working with harmful materials.
- Additionally, donating and recycling clothes, for one, is a great way to reduce clothing waste. Instead of tossing your out-of-style Crocs in the garbage can, donating to places such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army will not only help our planet but also help someone in need.
Both of these steps can help reduce the amount of income these fast-fashion companies are making, which in turn, help out those abused workers in other countries.