In years past, only the richest individuals could afford to own multiple sets of clothes to switch out depending on the day or activity. The rest of the world made do with one suit or dress for formal occasions, and perhaps a handful of humble garments for day-to-day life. That traditional approach to clothing has changed steadily for the past several decades as modern technologies and garment factories have driven down prices. Today, we live in a world of fast fashion, with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it transition from the catwalk to the store to the consumer and then quickly to the donation bin as styles fall back out of fashion. The cheap prices we enjoy today don’t really cost less than past clothing did, though – it’s just that rather than paying in money now workers are paying in suffering. Nothing is truly free, not really, which is a topic being explored by the new documentary directed by Andrew Morgan, The True Cost.
The True Cost holds a mirror up to the practices of an out-of-control industry, practices which are not only devastating to workers but also have a huge negative impact on the environment. Air pollution, water pollution, and deforestation can all be laid at the feet of the garment industry, though of course not exclusively. Alberta Energy states that about 10 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions come from this overproduction of apparel and textiles. Fossil fuels are being consumed at all ends of the garment process, from the farming machinery to the factories themselves to the huge container ships used to bring the finished clothing from the third world countries where they are produced to the first world countries where they are consumed. Continue reading