My interest in fair trade and ethical companies was originally ignited while looking for opportunities to fight modern slavery and support organizations that were already making a difference. However, I predominately only ever bought fair trade food because I told myself that ethical fashion was out of my price range or just not my style. April of 2013 forever changed my mind set about fast fashion and my fair-weather support of ethical and fair trade clothing companies.
On April 24, 2013, the garment factory at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh collapsed, ultimately killing more than 1,100 workers. It was a tragedy that these workers died and it was even worse learning that the workers knew the building was unstable and that they did not want to enter the factory. However, the workers were forced to enter the building anyway, all so that they could make cheap and disposable clothing for consumers in the USA and Europe.
Rana Plaza After The Collapse on April 24, 2013
Whenever I see a $10 shirt, I am reminded of the survivors of Rana Plaza that are still waiting compensation or that 40% of the injured are still unable to work. This event was nearly five years ago but the fight for fair wages and safe working conditions is ongoing. There are numerous companies that have still yet to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord, an agreement established in May of 2013 to ensure proper health and safety measures are in place and to enable a safer garment industry. Companies that are not doing their part in safeguarding garment workers and demanding that the factories they use have enough fire exits for all their workers and do not lock workers into the building with no way of escaping.
Fashion Revolution Week coincides with the Rana Plaza tragedy so that we can be reminded of the conditions that lead to that disaster and encouraged to keep fighting for changes in the fashion industry. We have to ask companies to be more transparent with their practices and to hold them accountable for knowing their complete supply chain. Ask brands “who made my clothes?” because gone are the days when claiming ignorance is acceptable. Consumers have to take action and require companies to be more responsible and follow ethical initiatives. Together we can change the fashion industry!
Garment Workers Protesting for Living Wages
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Photo Credit for Rana Plaza Collapse: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dhaka_Savar_Building_Collapse.jpg
Photo Credit for Garment Workers: https://www.flickr.com/photos/62762640@N02/16237298782