Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
Thursday, May 16, 2013
The clothing factory collapse in Bangladesh killing hundreds — another in a string of such tragedies in the past year — is a reminder of the high cost of our cheap clothes.
Not only are the mostly female workers in these factories paid pitiful wages (in Bangladesh, as low as 14 cents an hour for 14-hour days), but they must risk their lives to labor in unsafe conditions. Meanwhile, the CEOs of the clothing corporations earn $10,000 to $17,000 an hour, shareholders rake in profits, and we brag over our latest “find” of an inexpensive garment purchased at the mall.
As consumers, it seems our options are limited: We aren’t given information about workers’ conditions or pay, and finding clothing more fairly made is challenging. Insisting on “inspections” seems naï ve — most of the factories that lately have gone up in flames or down in collapse had recently passed inspections by industry-paid monitors.
Some options exist for us, however. We can divest from companies using cheap offshore labor; we can openly question or publicly picket our favorite brands; we can support organizations that help women have opportunities to be successful within their own economies (rather than linked to — and exploited by — the global market); we can buy fewer, less trendy (and thus longer-lasting) clothing items, take up the forgotten practice of mending, and then send the money we saved to organizations empowering women.
An even bigger step: The entrepreneurs among us could launch clothing lines based on fair pay and safe working conditions. I’m guessing there would be a market among awakened and upset U.S. consumers, who may just be getting tired of dressing themselves at others’ expense.
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us