10 Facts from ‘The True Cost’, that will Completely Change the Way You Look at Fashion

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The True Cost is filmmaker Andrew Morgan’s journey in discovering where our clothes come from. The True Cost is a must watch not only for fast fashion consumers but for each and every human being. The documentary is beautifully shot and edited and gives you a 360-degree insight on what really goes behind the scenes. It takes you through dark sweatshops in Bangladesh, India and Cambodia to glamorous runways and features perspectives from influencers, designers, activists and academics. It is an eye-opening film that leaves you a little teary-eyed but also determined to go out and do something to make a difference.

‘How did clothing get so cheap, while all the resources involved in making them continue to be expensive?’ was another question he needed an answer for. If you think about it, labour is the only aspect that can be controlled in the fast fashion supply chain. As economies liberalized, developed countries started outsourcing most of its garment manufacturing to developing countries to get competitive prices. But increasing stakes and profit margins blurred the line that separated competitive pricing from modern-day slavery?

There are many reasons that lead us to buy into the ‘use & throw’ model of fast fashion. Cheap clothing, new collections every week, flashy and compelling advertising, the social stigma of repeating your outfit, are some of the reasons that don’t make us think twice before going on a shopping spree. Fast fashion companies are building an aspirational life that revolves around vanity, greed and endless wants over needs.

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This movie has played a massive impact on my life and helped me find my purpose. Here are 10 facts from The True Cost, that will completely change the way you look at fashion:

  1. The Fashion Industry is the second largest polluting industry, only after oil. At every stage of production, excessive amounts of natural resources are used up or adulterated.
  2. Fast fashion has made clothing cheaper, but someone somewhere in the supply chain is paying the price for it. Garment manufacturing workers in sweatshops are barely paid living wages, let alone worker safety!
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  3. We have never consumed so much fashion before! The world now produces over 150 Billion clothes a year, that is a 400% increase in the amount of clothing we consumed a couple of decades before.
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  4. Clothing is a deflationary product. While most products are appreciated in value, clothing is now cheaper than ever before.

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  5. We use & we throw, but do we take a moment to think where it goes? Only about 10% of discarded clothing goes to charity or second-hand clothing market; the rest 90% ends up in landfills!
  6. Cotton is excessively used in the fashion industry, largely cultivated in India and is a cash crop. Over 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have killed themselves in the last 15 years, mostly as a result of going into debt to buy GMO cotton seeds, courtesy of Monsanto.
  7. The harsh pesticides used for cotton cultivation in India, are already banned in developed markets like EU, UK & US. It is still sold in India with no training on its usage, causing disabilities by birth and irreversible health hazards to farmer families.

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  8. The river Ganga in India, considered holy by Hindus, is highly polluted with toxins from the leather tanneries in Kanpur. The ongoing ‘Ganga Pollution Case,’ has also reported an impact on infant mortality.

  9. The 3 worst disasters in the history of the global fashion (Rana Plaza building collapse, factory ablaze Ashulia industrial & Aswad Composite Mills factory, all in Bangladesh) industry happened within the same year (2013)  killing in total over 1,500 people and injuring over 2500.

  10. There are multiple organisations and brands working on cleaning the negative impacts of the fashion industry by sourcing and manufacturing ethically.

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    Safia Minney of People Tree, Image courtesy: Fair Trade Org

“You don’t have to love fashion any less. Celebrate the beauty and artistry of clothing and invest in things you really love and will wear and take care of a long time. That in itself is sustainable.” says Morgan.

I strongly believe that we as consumers, and even just as humans, can change the way fashion is made. We have the power to ask brands for transparency in supply chains and accountability in social & environmental impacts. If we demand a cleaner and fairer fashion industry, they wouldn’t have a choice but to give the consumer what they want! 🙂

Please feel free to browse through some amazing Sustainable Fashion brands on Fairtrunk!

This article was originally published here.

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