Did we become the victims of our thirst for consumption?

Have you ever heard of the Rana Plaza garment factory that collapsed in Bangladesh? It was a large factory that produced “fast fashion” items, but sadly, it ended up collapsing and killing over 1,000 people due to the careless and undisciplined atmosphere in the factory. What a horrible event, right? But what if I told you that the whole world played a role in a series of events that finally led to the factory collapsing and tragically killing many people. The idea of you or me buying a T-shirt from GAP or continuously shopping from H&M thereby causing the death of a worker in Bangladesh seems far-fetched, but in fact, there is a direct line between them. But how and why are we connected to these series of events? More specifically, how did we become the victims of our unstoppable thirst for consumption and a part of the cycle of fast fashion?

Fast fashion can be defined as the process of producing articles of clothing quickly that are cost-efficient. Fast fashion has emerged in our lives a couple of decades ago as a result of widespread and cheap production of clothing and increasing disposable incomes of a mass number of people around the world. In order to satisfy the increasing demand for fast fashion products, more and more of the world’s precious resources, such as fertile lands to grow cotton, water from rivers and lakes, leather and furs of animals have been allocated. For example, the Central Asian inland sea, which was once the world’s fourth largest lake, is ‘completely dry’ right now because the crops grown with the river water went towards cotton production. The greediness of many factories for cotton has caused a whole sea to dry up.

In order to keep up with the fast growing demand and make bigger profits, the use of inorganic fertilizers to grow cotton, chemicals, dyes and other environmentally unfriendly substances has exploded. In fact, the use of fertilizers and chemicals has created toxic and hazardous waste- polluting our air, rivers and soil. Also, the abuse of labour in undeveloped parts of the world has increased. The people who we describe as ‘’workers’’ aren’t even close to our idea of a normal worker. Just like the unfortunate employees of Rana Plaza garment factory they work for 14 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week and have very low wages: 30 or 25 dollar cents an hour. Accidents, fires, injuries, and disease are very frequent occurrences in these sweatshops because employees usually work under inhumane conditions. However they can’t refuse to work because they live with the fear of getting fired and earning no money even though the amount of the money they earn seems like ‘’nothing’’ for me or you.

We all have a responsibility in this wrong doing. We all play a key role in this vicious cycle as we continue to consume more to selfishly satisfy our desires, making ourselves both creators and victims of this disastrous process. So yes, we are the victims of our unstoppable thirst for consumption. Unfortunately, the worst part is at the end of the day we are not the ones who are dying and getting hurt like the laborers or drying, draining away, and getting damaged like mother nature.

“Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere is paying.” — Lucy Siegle, journalist and author

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“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Ela Kopmaz

Ela Kopmaz

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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