Last month, we attended the Toronto premiere screening of The True Cost documentary, co-hosted by Fashion Takes Action and Ryerson University. Directed by Andrew Morgan, the documentary explores the negative effects of the international fast-fashion industry on developing countries.
Since the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013, in which over 1000 people died, there has been a global push to uncover the human costs of fast fashion supply chain. In the document, some of the damaging costs they focused on included:
- Environmental cost: pollution and dumping of textile chemicals in lakes and rivers
Human cost: exposure to garment chemicals resulting in cancer and birth defects. Low wages and lack of labour rights.
As businesses, large retailers have increased their profit margins by passing along the costs onto the garment producers. They apply pressure to factories in Asia to produce garments at the lowest costs possible. As a result, factory owners pay their workers less to work longer hours, yet they are expected to produce at a faster rate.
The documentary also briefly touched upon the flooding of second-hand clothing in the global south, like Haiti where the abundance of used clothing has destroyed the local manufacturing industry. The same situation is happening across Africa, which has hindered the local textile manufacturing industry. (Learn more: The Secret Life of Your Clothes)
As consumers, we have the power to promote a shift away from fast fashion to a just supply chain that is ethical and sustainable. Whether it be making your own clothes, supporting local designers or shopping from transparent global fashion brands, conscious consumers create the demand. We have the power to change the system by simply changing the way we shop.
This month it was announced that the documentary is now available on Netflix worldwide. We at Kuwala strongly recommend you watch this informative documentary.
Have you watched The True Cost? What did you think?