FROM CNN: The True Cost, a new documentary, chronicles the evils of the clothing industry and asks us to stop buying so much cheap stuff.
We buy too many clothes, and we pay too little for them.
That’s the message of “The True Cost,” a new documentary on the perils of the fashion industry, which is being released next week.
The film interviews a factory owner in Bangladesh, who says the constant pressure to produce cheaply is partly responsible for the unsafe conditions.
“Is it really ethical to buy a T-shirt for $5, or a pair of jeans for $20?” asks Livia Firth, creative director at the sustainable businesses consultancy Eco-Age.
The movie is filled with disturbing facts. Here’s a few:
— 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have killed themselves in the last 15 years, partly as a result of going into debt to buy genetically modified cotton seeds.
— There are 80 billion pieces of clothing purchased worldwide each year, up 400% from two decades ago.
— Americans throw out 82 pounds of textiles annually.
— Only 10% of the clothes people donate to thrift stores get sold — the rest end up in landfills or flood markets in developing countries.
“I came into this completely blind,” Director Andrew Morgan said at a press screening Friday. “I never thought twice about a piece of clothing I wore.”
Morgan said a photo of children — who were close in age to his own kids — hunting for loved ones near the Rana Plaza rubble is what spurred him to make the film.
He said systematic changes are needed in this and other industries, chief among them counting the costs of pollution or unsafe working conditions that are not currently factored into the price of goods.
But for now, he urges consumers to opt off the treadmill of purchasing more and more cheap clothing — what’s being referred to as “fast fashion” — and buy fewer, better-made items.
“Let’s back off this endless, constant purchasing and invest in clothes we love,” he said.