April 24th is the 3rd Anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh where 1,133 people died and 2,500 people were injured. Also, this is my 3rd year joining this fashion revolution against these type of disasters. This year I'm wearing my clothes inside out and asking Calvin Klein #whomademyclothes?
As I move forward with my spiritually, I am feeling more and more compelled to take responsibility in actions toward others specially when it's unfair treatment. I find it reflecting on my own actions that 'not caring' is our biggest problem in humanity. It's easy to turn the other cheek and not to care, but really where does that get us to on a individual and society level? Not caring only gets us to atrocities like that of Rana Plaza, just one of more that have happened since that day. This is also not counting the unreported ones. 'Not knowing' is not sufficient to excuse us from our social responsibility to ensure those making our clothes have a healthy work environment and are not abused. Also, saying 'well, I can't afford ethical clothing' is not an excuse either. There are other inexpensive ways to make choices. I mention a pair below.
So, how does one even get started in taking responsibility? I get you, the spectrum is wide. It all doesn't just start and end in a factory. Let's first start from the makers perspective. Who are the brands/designers--what do they stand for? Are they really producing original designs? Are they stealing pattern and design ideas from other brands? How ethical are their business decisions? It's those decisions and mindset that first affect and spread down the production line. It can get quite overwhelming if you're just starting out, but key is to first determine where one is at in the chain of clothing production and consumption and take it step by step--applying changes that stick, I say. First step is to get educated on the matter. Moving on to replacing clothing as we move forward in our journey and/or make better shopping decisions slowly. Reading up on news of your favorite brands really helps understand information not widely available from brands directly. Recently there was a news story on Chanel not paying their taxes, this really matters to me. I want a brand that is responsible. There was another story on how high-end labels are taking talent from artisans and how they should be credited--I agree! Asking questions is a must step on every step. Don't expect to change overnight, I know I haven't but I am definitely moving along. Joining movements is another way to start.
Again, this year, I decided to join Fashion Revolution, an organization that is dedicated to not forget what happened at Rana Plaza and spread awareness on how we can make changes to a more sustainable way of living through clothing, which is very in accordance with my faith. As mentioned the first step is getting educated, they provide a good in depth of knowledge. I recommend to take a peek. Here are some other things one can do throughout the year that may ensure a social level of responsibility:
Understand the Situation
People are dying while making clothes that we wear. This in itself should be it to make you take a step towards doing something about the situation. The population growth and pop culture conditioning us to be compulsive buyers definitely puts a pressure on factories to overwork their workers in dangerous work environments, this is not even mentioning the physical and verbal abuse that they go through.
Don't Be Afraid to Wear The Same Thing Over and Over
A part of our culture has conditioned us that we need something new to wear every weekend stagnating our creativity. Instead, buy one good quality piece and be creative in wearing it. So don't be a follower, be a leader.
Recycle and Upcycle
Please don't just throw away your clothing to the garbage--this adds to landfills not to mention most of fast fashion clothing are made of materials that don't decompose. Instead, trade clothing, donate it or get creative and upcycle it!
"Clothes aren't going to change the world. The woman who wear them will. - Anne Klein