Can We Fix Fashion?

During this week’s lecture I had an opportunity to learn about actions I can take in the future towards sustainability within the fashion industry. As an apparel design student I take it upon myself that I try to contribute in the sustainable and ethical aspects of the industry. As I learned in the TED 10 videos the issue of how and where products are made starts from the designer. As a designer you can choose to design a t-shirt in a way that will not waste fabric when being cut or setup production in local areas so that the production can be closely monitored and ensure workers are being treated fairly. My investigative report is focused on the topic of the unethical practices in sweatshops, throughout completing activity 3, I have discovered that consumers are becoming more aware of the ethical problems within the fashion industry being the use of sweatshops. Today more than ever, consumers are becoming more willing to pay extra for their clothing to contribute to fixing this issue, whether the clothing is locally made or produced in a factory where employees are paid and treated fairly. This consumption of clothing is increasingly steady with fast fashion as there are always new trends to keep up with. As stated in our Fashion & Sustainability reading there is a large amount of waste occuring due to the influx of clothing thrown away whenever a new trend arises. Clothing should be designed with the intention of repurposing once that item is no longer usable as the original item or no longer in style. As we learned throughout the Story of Stuff the end journey of materials does not always end up somewhere recyclable, but rather in a landfill. It is also our responsibility to become more informed about where our waste goes or what would possibly be a better alternative, as the example used of paper or plastic grocery bags in Leyla’s TED talk. Personal research needs to be done before deciding on what products to use and determine how much easier they are to recycle as she stated that although paper may sound better in theory, paper is much heavier than plastic therefore easier to recycle in the end.  

Another aspect that I found interesting in the Story of Stuff is that typically the price is catered towards developed countries. Many low quality items, such as electronics, are sold for incredibly cheap and still potentially cost more than what a worker was paid to construct the item. Does this mean those individuals have access to cheap materialistic item such as these? Or do they not have that privilege? This brings us to the discussion of our reading on poverty, which brought up some interesting, yet controversial views. The article argued that people in poverty were causing environmental degradation because of their usage of land and wrongful farming techniques. Although the contradictory side argued that it would be more beneficial if the local government instituted programs and a democracy for those living in the area. Although my personal opinion is that they should be taught to properly farm to be able to sustain themselves because it is incredibly difficult to get out of poverty. Is it okay to blame someone to trying to sustain themselves when the government will not help? I do not believe so. This also ties into my overall thoughts for sustainability, it take higher powers in society to make an impact. Individuals can make a difference by taking care of their own waste and taking small personal steps, but it requires far more to make a major impact instantaneously when needed.

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