Last evening I finally sat down to watch The True Cost (truecostmovie.com) the documentary film about the impact of fast fashion (think Zara, Uniqlo, H&M, Forever 21 to name a few), on people and the planet.
(Spoiler alert) As a person who enjoys clothing, fabric, shopping and fashion, it was disturbing to say the least. A few years ago I read “Over Dressed, The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” (Elizabeth L. Cline). I found the book to be unnerving and fascinating. However, there’s nothing quite like the visual image of kids with birth defects caused by insecticide used on cotton to the collapse of buildings where hundreds are trapped in a sweat shop to get you thinking about where you buy your next t shirt.
I forced myself to see this movie precisely because I knew it would be graphic. I think if you are going to be in this industry you should know what really goes into how your clothes are sourced, made and discarded. And speaking of being discarded, here’s a surprising statistic: did you know that only 10% of the clothes you donate are actually resold and worn by others? Everything else ends up in landfill. Yes, I know this is a staggering number.
While this documentary is full of information, the one thing not mentioned is a formal call to action. What should we all do next?
In light of that gap, here are some of my thoughts:
Like everything else in life I like to think I’ll do the best I can now and then I’ll try to do even better the next time. Sometimes that’s the best call to action we can have.
Fashion—what we wear every single day, has huge relevance and huge consequence on human, social and environmental capital.