Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Secret Lives of our Clothes

This past week I found a very informative video on the REAL cost of our clothing.  It really focuses on jeans which are so widely used here in The States and are really one of the worst offenders of being hard of the environment.  Those of us living in the US are living in a "buy cheap, everything is disposable" world whether we mean to or not.  Sometimes it is just culture that has persuaded us to go for the convenient, sometimes price governs our decisions.  Jeans, in particular, can be an expensive purchase, but they can also be a purchase that can last for a very long time.  A good quality pair of jeans can last decades if your weight doesn't fluctuate and you care for them properly (as me how I know this!).

Although this video doesn't talk about other types of cotton clothing, or other fabrics with negative environmental impact. Leather, at its best,  is even worse.  It DOES recommend The Good Guide - a website and app for a better understanding of the impact of each item we use everyday.
My first thought was, "Yeah, like I am going to scan EVERY ITEM I use every day!" but then I realized how AMERICAN that thought was!  Why am I using THAT MANY products to begin with??!  It just goes to show that even those of us with the best of intentions may not be doing all we can to live with less impact.  I suspect you will hear more on this site as I learn about it.

The video also barely touches on it, but they recommend a video that originally aired on PBS called China Blue. It follows a 16 year old girl, leaving her home to work in a factory to help support her family.  The factory owner allowed the cameras in and was very candid. He didn't seem to have a problem (he seemed proud even) with the way the factory is running.

The problem is not only the attitude and treatment of the workers though.  The documentary also shows the negotiation between buyers and the owner.  The per pair price is almost nothing despite how much we pay in the store.  It just makes me dislike shopping even more.  It is the rich getting richer, just as it has always been.

Perhaps I am particularly sensitive to this specific subject given that I am manufacturing clothing for a loving right now.  While my per piece if very fair (despite my slow speed) and I know that my employer is not getting rich, there are companies out there making a lot more than she is just for carrying the items we make.  I can't help thinking that there has to be a way to spread the wealth more evenly.

I will leave you with those thoughts.
~Reduce, ReUse, Recycle and Rejoice!

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