Conscious Consumerism is on the rise!
How do we know? We now have big companies that are #winning by telling the stories of how their products are made, what they are made of, and the lives they touch through the production line. Fifteen years ago (some may argue even less than 10 years ago) transparency and caring about these issues never crossed consumers minds. Thankfully, multiple movements have pushed for our awareness about our surroundings, habits, and consumptions such as being green (eco-friendly), organic, toxin free, and chemical free. Recently we have the ethical movement. The ethical movement is making sure products are produced by workers who are paid fairly and who are working in good conditions. A subcategory of this is fair trade, which is explained more in one of our posts below, 'What's the Story Behind Your Shirt?'.
Rana Plaza collapse brought the ethical movement to it's forefront. Rana Plaza building had 5 factories filled with garment workers that were producing items for multiple large name clothing brands. The building was illegally expanded higher adding more weight than it could carry and collapsed on itself on April 24th, 2013. 1,134 were killed and over 2,000 more were severely injured. This the largest industrial tragedy of our time. Workers were told they must continue working or risk losing their jobs and the meager salary of $60 a month, which they struggle to support their families on.
This excerpt was found from an article in The New Yorker, "Death Traps: The Bangladesh Garment-Factory Disaster", by Sarah Sillman.
This is the story of a mother in a rural village who had gotten a call from her twenty-four-year-old son, a garment worker in Tazreen. “Mom,” he’d said, “there is a fire in the factory. I’m trying my best to escape, but smoke is filling my lungs.”
“Run to the stairs!” his mother told him, according to Akter. “Run to the window, and I’ll hop on a bus to come and get you.”
Ten minutes later, he called again. The stairs were jammed by a stampede. “Mom, I’m trying my best. There is no way I can get out.”
“Go to the toilet,” his mother told him, “and run the water so that it clears the smoke and you can breathe.” The son said, “O.K., I’m doing that.” He tried this, without luck, then returned to the factory floor, where his colleagues’ bodies were piling up in the dark.
Finally, he called home once more. This time, he rang with an apology. “Mom,” he cried, “it will be my last call—I’m dying for sure. I am sorry. I tried my best. I cannot breathe.” He wanted to convey a message. “I’m removing my shirt from my body, and I will tie it to my waist, so you can find me.” So he ripped off his shirt, made a knot around his torso, and collapsed so as to be found the next day by his mother.
Tragedies like these should not being happening in today's society. We have the engineering skills to structurally prohibit such buildings from being built. Also, since America is a very developed nation we should feel the responsibility to guide others in the way we'd want our own workers, companies, and laws to be made. I am asking that we show the same compassion, moral, and ethical standards we have set in our own country to those whom are less fortunate than us. We should be lifting others up and reaching for a better world, not exploiting our fellow friends in other countries.
A way we all can prevent this from happening again, anywhere in the world, is by doing our research. Research your favorite companies. Are they being transparent about their sourcing? If they are truly being responsible, there is no reason to hide their source. It's on trend right now to turn America into conscious consumers and you can be a part of the movement. After you research, make smart choices! Do not feed money into the greedy exploiting companies. Why purchase a $40 shirt that allows a person to buy a Porsche? Instead, purchase a $40 shirt that helps a mother be able to send her child to school this year or provide filtered water to a family so they can drink clean water and not get sick. This would be possible with your support.
Another way to show your support is participating in Fashion Revolution Day on April 24th! The social awareness campaign revolves around providing fair living wages and good working conditions in light of the Rana Plaza disaster. The campaign asks you to wear your clothes inside out either in public or to take a picture of the label and ask, 'Who made my clothes?' Of course, hashtag it! #FashRev
Mata Traders Who made this lovely dress? We know the story but, please share it with our readers. #Fairtrade #FashRev #consciousliving #ethicalfashion #India #cotton
Posted by Global Handmade Hope on Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Two great articles that tell the stories of the workers