Motherhood has been a rush of awareness for me. Now I see things that I didn’t see before and care about things I never cared about. Subjects like education reform, holistic health and environmental crisis are now part of my everyday vocabulary. I even became a quality stalker, constantly looking for beautiful, modern, organic and ethical products for my kids and family.
The hunt is especially hard when looking for clothes. Options are very limited these days if you are looking for convenience, quality, design, if you are on budget, and if you also care about the planet.
That’s why I got so excited when I heard about H&M launching a new conscious label. Cool, nicely designed, affordable and good to the world. They are even promoting a campaign to help you recycle your old clothes. Great way to celebrate earth day this month!
However, the excitement was short lived and after only a few minutes of research, I was left with sadness and a little bit of horror.
H&M is the second largest clothing corporation in the world and one of the largest producers of clothing in Bangladesh and Cambodia. Labor workers in these areas are constantly exploited in order to fulfill the million-dollar orders that these third party factories get from multinational corporations.
At this point I thought the H&M campaign sounded like a total joke! Not cool at all, immoral and gimmicky, because recycling your old clothes to get a discount to buy more clothes makes no sense. Besides, the timing was terrible, since the anniversary of the accident at the Rama Plaza is also this month.
The documentary film The Truth Cost explain this current condition clearly: “it was supposed to be a win-win situation where the rich countries will get cheap clothes and the poor countries will get jobs to help them get better, but that didn’t happen.”
Instead, we created a production chain where the customer gets swallowed by the never ending cycle of consumerism, poor countries get exploited, child labor is unregulated, the ecosystem suffers and the corporations only get bigger and bigger.
Is this an inevitable consequence of capitalism? Is our economic system only powered by greed? Should these labor workers feel lucky because, “at least they have a job”? Can we do better?
We have to hold clothing companies accountable and we have to be more responsible with our buys. It is time to own our role in this global issue. It is time to question things and get involved.
Fashion Revolution is a great initiative that brings the conversation to the table, inspiring me to ask #whomademyclothes? As part of their mission, each year they bring people from all over the world together to raise awareness about the true cost of our garments, to show the world that change is possible and to celebrate all those involved in creating a more sustainable future.
I believe change is possible if we stop thinking that money is the only goal, if we stop seeing people as profit and if we take actions. I know the fashion industry, and the rest of the world, is slowly moving towards a more conscious way of existence. I’m just concerned about the speed of that change.
There are a lot of things that I feel I have no say about in this world: wars, international trade agreements, political interests, gun control… But somehow I really feel that we have a say in the fashion industry. After all, every American, including every man, woman and child, spends an average of $1,141 each year on clothing.
We are the customers; we are the ones spending billion of dollars on it, we are the ones supporting this whole industry. Call me a dreamer but maybe out of all of the problems in the world, this is one that we can actually do something about.