A couple of weeks ago, I finally watched a documentary that I had had on my Netflix list for a long time, it is called “The True Cost”. I always said I wanted to watch it, but when I had the spare time, I kept ignoring it because I am familiar with this subject and I knew it wouldn’t be a fun film to watch – so I just procrastinated.

Well, I must say I was right, parts of the movie were really hard to watch, at least for me. However, I learned new things and it was such a great reminder. I am glad I had the courage to watch it.

So today, I just want to write a bit about topic and perhaps encourage you to watch it and spread the message.

Fast Fashion

I would like to start with the definition of the term Fast Fashion, because I know many people have never heard of it and it is crucial. According to merrian-webster:

“An approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers”

Basically it is the modern way of doing “fashion” these days, it is easy to go to any shopping centre and find a trendy top for only $20, irresistible sales are abundant. We buy it, wear it a couple of times and out of the sudden the trend has changed, that top is already old fashioned or we just want something new again. We stop wearing it, we throw/give it away (because of course we only paid $20, what’s the big deal). Then we shop again (because it is really cheap) and the cycle continues.

The true cost documentary

Photo courtesy: truecostmovie.com

We are so used to this (or course marketing does a great job helping us to make these decisions) that we think is normal, everything is fine, we are helping the economy while we are having some fun buying our beloved clothes, but we are not seeing the full picture, we are not asking important questions:

Where does our clothes come from? Who is making these garments? How come is so cheap? What about the resources that are needed to manufacture the clothes? What about the environmental and social impact?  Where will these garments end up?

This RMIT University article puts it this way:

“Behind cheap throwaway fashion lies a myriad of contradictions…fashion & victims; poverty & affluence; global & local effects; wages & profits; garments & chemicals; clothes & clothing & ecological balance.”

The film

Those are precisely the topics that “The True Cost” explores. This short interview to the film director, Andrew Morgan explains quite well why they created the film and why this is an extremely important topic.

As you probably already know, these days most of these clothes are made in the developing country. I was shocked when I heard that in 1960, 95% of the clothes in the USA was locally made, today is around 3%.

Big brands operate overseas because cheap labour and flexible/convenient laws when it comes to the environment and working conditions. They can make big profits.

The environment

The demands for more and more clothes, make this industry unsustainable. The environmental impact is not really measured, resources like water, land, chemicals and not accounted into the cost of production of the clothes.

For example, the film talks about the cotton industry, the effects of pesticides and fertilisers on human health and the environment (from cancer to suicides)

Also about water pollution caused by the factories which send toxic chemicals into local rivers that are used for the local communities.

The effects are really devastating.

Social issues

I must admit that even when I knew about the human rights/inequality component of this problem, this part really hit me hard. It is really heartbreaking and wrong at so many levels.

People in the developing country are paying the price, they are people like you and me, only that many of them were born in poverty and their options and limited.

Some of us were lucky enough to be raised in a family and an environment that allowed us to be, to grow, to have opportunities, what about those who were not so lucky? They also want to be safe, to have good working conditions, to make a decent salary.

Yet most of them make $2 or $3 per day, they endure tough conditions, many of them are far from their families, in working environments that sometimes are not even safe.

I come from a developing country myself, I’ve seen poverty and I’ve seen the suffering of people just trying to survive, victims of the circumstances, so I couldn’t avoid feeling incredibly sad watching these stories.

The one part of this documentary that I am not going to forget was this: “Remember that everything we wear was touched by human hands

Someone on the other side of the world is making everything we are wearing, and many of them are suffering, many of them are just surviving, many of them are even dying.

Our part in the story

I am not the owner of one of those big corporations/brands, but I have a responsibility, I have bought the $10 T-shirt because it was cheap, to have “variety” in my wardrobe, to get a short boost of happiness buying new stuff, to take advantage of the massive sale. I have created the demand so many times.

It is hard to face the truth, to burst the bubbles we live in, to break our habits, but you know what? It is never too late and I believe it is the right thing to do, for the people, for the planet.

Let’s revisit our habits, buy less stuff, check that our values and actions are matched and support good brands with our purchases, remember how we spend our money really counts.

I like this quote below, it is great advice when it comes to clothes and fashion:

Buy less, choose well, make it last.” – Vivienne Westwood

That’s it for today. I really hope you can watch the documentary. If you do, please come back and tell me your thoughts. Also please spread the message. Have a wonderful day.

Thanks for reading,