Friday if one doesn’t like it later. That

Friday November 24th, a day filled of discounts and deals. People rushing from store to store buying into the sales and cheap prices. The day after thanksgiving known as Black Friday is famous for its cut throat deals. Causing people all over to spend money on things they may not need or want later. It’s justified though, who cares about that $3 dollar shirt if one doesn’t like it later. That dirt cheap shirt can be given to goodwill, charity, or thrown away after all it was only $3. Fashion, one of the biggest industries in the world. How could it not be right? Clothes are how people choose to portray themselves. They are used to communicate how people see themself and how they wish for others to see them. Clothes in other words are our chosen appearance. Typically when buying clothes not much is thought of besides the cost, the style and size. People don’t stop and consider where the clothes came from or who made them. When buying clothes people are oblivious to the true cost of cheap clothes outside of what they have to pay. It is said that only about “2% of clothing is made in the U.S.” (Vats 1) today leaving 98% to be outsourced in developing countries around the world. Clothing is also “one of the few categories in the federal Consumer Price Index in which overall prices have declined 10 percent since 1998” (Wilson 1). Prices of clothes have gone down but it still costs the same to manufacture them how does this work? In the 1970s big retail chains started “outsourcing production factories overseas where the work is done at a tiny fraction of the cost” (Vats 1). These are known as sweatshops which are “defined as a factory that violates 2 or more labor laws also having very poor working conditions, unfair wages, unreasonable hours, child labor, and lack of benefits for workers” (11 facts about sweatshops 1). Although the fashion industry creates jobs for over 40 million people in developing countries they treat sweatshop workers unfairly and are causing a lot of pain and suffering. Today stores have new styles and new clothes coming in every week this phenomenon is known as “Fast Fashion” (Tan 1). These clothes are mass produced in sweatshops thus having  cheaper prices which in turn “attract more customers” (Tan 1).  The idea of fast fashion is to make a person “feel out of style after a week” (Whitehead 1). This has caused a major increase in consumption for example “today people purchase over 80 billion pieces of new clothing each year. That is 400% more than the amount people bought 2 decades ago” (Morgan 1). Booth Moore suggests there are two types of products the things used that last a long time such as a car, or washer machine and things used up like chewing gum or floss. She continues saying that consumptionism and fast fashion is all about getting people to treat the things they use as the thing they use up. (Moore 1) Guido Brera Investment Manager, looked into why people were becoming so poor. He talks about the direct correlation between fast fashion and this growing debt. Brera notes that he used to buy one to four t-shirts a year, but now a person will buy a new shirt for events or dates. He finds that as mentioned the price of clothes have gone down while the things people really need such as life insurance have become very costly. Guido proposes that many people are in debt and have lost everything they truly need but they can still go out and buy new clothes. (Brera 1) The demand for new and more clothes is having many detrimental effects on people and the environment of third world nations. For example the Cambodian government like many other developing countries are desperate for the business that multinational retailers bring. There is a constant threat that these brands will relocated production to other low cost countries. This causes the government to hold down wages routinely avoiding enforcement of local labor laws. The major brands also do not officially employ the workers or own any of the factories they produce in so they’re able to profit hugely all while remaining free of responsibility for the effects of poverty wages, factory disasters and the ongoing violent treatment of workers. (Moore 1) Meaning that sweatshop workers have to work longer hours in unsafe conditions for an “average of $3 a day” (Moore 1) with no say and little rights. This increase in production is also damaging the environment for example “the average american throws away 82 pounds of textile waste each year. Adding up to more than 11 million tons of textile waste from the U.S. alone. Most of this waste is non biodegradable” this means it will sit in different landfills for over 200 years releasing harmful gases into the air (Moore 1). This surplus of clothes thrown out is sometimes donated but as it turns out only “10% of the clothes given away actually get sold in local thrift stores” (Moore 1). Clothes that are donated and aren’t sold get dumped into third world countries, mentions Moore. She adds that so much clothes are being left in these countries that actual clothing industries there are going out of business (Moore 1). In the end the customer is in charge without them, businesses don’t have jobs explains Booth. Many argue that the sweatshops the fashion industry brings to third world countries are helpful. For example Christopher Blattman, and Stefan Dercon believe that factory jobs can be an “escalator out of poverty” (Christopher Blattman, and Stefan Dercon 1). They argue that factory jobs are better than the alternatives of agriculture or informal market selling. They also declare that factory jobs will have a consistent wage and will pay more than agriculture or marketing. Benjamin Powell Director of Free Market Institute agrees with Christopher Blattman, and Stefan Dercon agrees that there are worse alternatives than sweatshops. He argues that sweatshops have “major economic benefits, they aren’t just the least bad option for these people” (Scherstuhl 1). Powell insists that Sweatshops are part of a fast process that raises living standards and leads to higher wages and better working conditions. He states that physical capital, technology, and human capital or the skills of workers are the causes of development. Powell reasons that when sweatshops come to these countries they bring all three of those things to these workers and start getting that process going. Kate Ball young former Sourcing Manager states that sweatshop workers are doing a job. She also recognizes that there are alot worse things these people could be doing and there is “nothing inherently dangerous with sewing clothes” (Brooke 1). She emphasizes that these workers knew the conditions going into the job and chose to work there admittedly from a bad set of options. It is argued that sweatshops are the key to building up these developing countries and that they are better than the alternative of not having a factory job. In other words low wages unsafe conditions and factory disaster are all excused because of the needed jobs they create for people with no alternatives. Kate Ball also argued that there was nothing inherently dangerous with sewing. Yet there have been countless factory accidents for example in Dhaka Bangladesh the collapse of the Rana Plaza. This killed more than “1,000 workers in the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry” (Yardley 1). It is true that the is a major need for work in many third world countries but shouldn’t they still be treated as equal human beings? These people are no worse or better than any person on this Earth and at least deserve a fair living wage. Livia Firth reveals that places such as Cambodia there were protests and many people were killed and injured requesting as little as $160 a month (Firth 1). Many sweatshop workers have died making these cheap clothes. She continues reasoning  how these businesses are generating trillions of dollars in profit but can’t support its employees, and can’t guarantee their safety. If these businesses are producing these tremendous profits but can’t guarantee these basic essential human rights does the system work properly? When looking at capitalism it needs to continually grow in order to survive. But humans and the environment have limits in terms of production, transportation and it has become clear that these businesses have overstepped these limits. The fashion industry is concentrated solely on profits not people and because of that human rights, and workers rights have been lost. By pushing down the price to accumulate more capital and profits it’s leaving millions of people in poverty. In the end people are not things and should be treated as Human Beings not in terms of profit. The cost of profit is not worth the cost of a person’s life.Sweatshops are inhumane and hurt the workers more than help them. It is understandable how desperate underdeveloped countries are for work but that does not give the right to take advantage of these workers. The goal is to spread industry across the globe then the benefits from doing so should also be shared globally. There are ways to help solve this problem now such as buy clothes from fair trade organizations such as patagonia. It’s not about creating jobs but starting a global change within the industry and showing the world that things like fair trade work.


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