As I conducted research for activity three, my eyes were opened even more to the harmful, dangerous, and exploitative labor practices that are occurring just under our noses in the fashion industry. However, what is even more frightening is to think about how we as consumers are fueling this issue with nearly every purchase we make. Brands such as H&M and Zara have been under fire on multiple occasions for unsafe treatment of employees and unsuitable factory conditions. However, the target market for these brands is the demographic that I fall into as a female college student. Playing a role in the unethical actions that these companies take is very unsettling to me and worries me greatly, because when most people see when they look at companies such as these is a store with trendy clothes, at a reasonable price point, that is readily available to them. However, when you dive further into the practices of these companies, you find that there is much more trash than there is treasure. I find this concerning, because the average shopper is most likely not going to take the time or effort to research the companies that they are buying from before they purchase something. So each purchase made by typical shoppers at these stores is going to be perceived as support for the unsafe treatment and conditions of workers, whether the customer is aware of it or not.
In the poverty reading, I was intrigued by the relationship between environmental degradation and poverty. While reading, I learned that many people view poverty as a direct cause of the weakening, weathered environment while others see it as a result of the destructive practices occurring on Earth. To be honest, I had never really given this notion much thought. I had not considered there ever being a relationship between these two, but now that it has been explained, they are so clearly related.
In the Leyla Acaroglu’s TEDtalk, she discusses the difference between paper and plastic products as well as their uses and impacts on the environment. She begins by posing the idea that paper bags as an alternative to plastic bags may not be as sustainable as we are trained to think. She calls this phenomenon “environmental folklore”, and continues to state that we must rethink folklore and replace it with scientific facts. Most people make choices based on their experiences, so in this case that would mean choosing paper bags over plastic because that is what we have been told is the more sustainable option. However, it often stems from hearsay and not proven fact. Acaroglu applies this idea to many other examples regarding our actions in the environment and the need for new, innovative solutions that promote environmentalism based on fact and not folklore.
Finally, the concept of biophilia was introduced to me this week. By definition based on root words, biophilia means to have a love for life and living systems. Additionally, the biophilia hypothesis states that there is a instinctive bond between humans and other living systems. This means that when we have a this natural affinity for life and the environment, we will innately want to take care of it.