Did You Know It's The Dirtiest?

Do you know who made your clothes, how much they earn, how they're treated, how many hours they work?  Do you know what country your clothes were made, what resources were used, how much impact it had environmentally? 


In the words of Patrick Woodyard, "the fashion industry has been defined by a complete lack of connection between the original producer and the end consumer".  As late as the 1960's 95% of our clothes were made in the US.  Today that figure is less than 3%.   As the distance between our production location and purchase location has grown the accountability and transparency of our supply chain has severely decreased. 


This has had monumental implications on the people and the planet.  Today the fashion industry is the 2nd dirtiest industry in the world behind oil.  Cheaper prices mean we're consuming lower quality products more frequently and disposing of them more quickly.  The cost adds up in more than one way. 


In 2013 in Bangladesh, over 2,000 garment workers were killed and thousands more injured from the collapse of a factory building and factory fires.  Many lives were lost in honor of cheap clothing.  


According to the documentary, True Cost, there are over 5000 garment factories in Bangladesh where the average worker is paid less than $3 a day.  This  trend is holding people in extreme poverty.  Children are sent away to villages to live with other family members because parents work such long hours. The livelihood of garment workers is where margins are squeezed so that we in the U.S. can be fashionable.  


People aren't the only exploitation of the fashion industry.  Valuable resources are highly abused.  For example, cotton which is used for most fabric is now mostly GMO and heavily sprayed with pesticides.  Millions of acres of land are treated regularly with chemicals. What's the cost on soil quality, watersheds, the health of the people and animals in the area?  There's a dramatic rise in birth defects, cancer and other diseases occurring in these locations.  


You probably have a pair of shoes made from leather from Kanpur, the largest producer of leather in the world.  Chromium which is used in the chemicals for treating leather is poisoning water in this region.  More and more people are getting sick from the contaminated water every year. 


As consumer we're only looking at the finished product.  People don’t realize how much work goes into making their clothes, how many long hours are spent in factories that have poor conditions, are hot, no proper breaks for food or water, where managers walk around yelling and abusing workers, where people lose their lives such as with the collapse of Rana Plaza.  There's no maternity leave, no health care, no living wages, that’s why businesses out source to places like Bangladesh.  Is this problem so out of sight we can't realize what we're contributing to?


We as consumers are not untouched by this either.  Retail therapy is dangerous.  Advertising has programmed the message that we can solve our problems by consuming.  We're losing more of what's important which is affordable housing, health insurance and time well spent with family and community.  We're exhausted at the end of the work day trying to maintain this glorified lifestyle and not much happier for it.  Americans rank #18 among developed countries when it comes to happiness.  But hey at least we look stylish at a cheap cost. 


What if we considered the real cost before making a purchase?  Companies are striving to grow every quarter more than the last at the expense of everything.  The system needs debunking.  That's where being regularly informed can help.  One step is to learn more about what clothing companies to be careful of.  I suggest going to https://goodonyou.eco.  The next step is to start being more aware of your consumer habits.


I’m surprised at how many people I talk to who don't realize what's happening in the fashion industry.   That's why when I chose to create Imbued I wanted the process to be eco-conscious.  That's why the fabrics and other materials used are eco-friendlier options and the production will take place in the U.S.  Also Imbued's marketing platform is meant to inspire and educate and move away from the current trend.  


Imbued robes are practical, serve a purpose and the top quality fabric should last many seasons.  There's also the added benefit that a portion of proceeds support non-profits. 


The BIG news is that the robes are almost ready to launch!

Kristin Brown