Hello everybody! In the context of my upcoming video about the impact of fast fashion, I want to dedicate specific posts to some of the aspects of the issue that I know already won’t fit into the video (a gurl only has so many hours to edit lol) One of the issues that I want to address is the issue of jobs and employment within the fast fashion industry. I often hear the argument that although fast fashion is awful, the industry does keep people employed, so at least that’s something right? And if we all boycott fast fashion, they won’t the people previously employed in sweatshops then be complete without jobs?
Fast facts about fast fashion workers:
- There are roughly 40 million garment workers in the world today
- Only 2% of whom are paid a livable wage
- They are some of the lowest-paid workers in the world
- 85% of garment workers are women
- Fast fashion workers are generally not allowed to form unions or discuss salary
It is not likely that the fast fashion industry will shut down overnight, rather it will be a slow transition away from an outdated business model – just like in animal ag. When we stop buying clothes from brands who exploit their workers, we will likely have to buy less, but better, clothes from ethical brands instead – who pay fair wages to workers. It is a slow transition that will shift jobs over years. But it is important to remember that fast fashion isn’t giving people jobs as much as they are keeping slaves.
Most sweatshop workers do not earn a liveable salary in the first place, so excusing your consumption of fast fashion clothes by proclaiming your creating jobs simply only holds the tiniest dash of considerable truth. they are not allowed to form unions, and right now, due to covid, many fast-fashion retailers are “postponing” the payment of their workers, and have been doing so since March. They aren’t being paid now, but they can’t leave either. If fast fashion is slowly out-phased, one can hope that more ethical businesses will open up instead – OR that new socio-economic structures will allow for more self-reliable communities
Here are some actions that will actually benefit garment workers:
- Boycott the big fast fashion brands, and communicate to the brands that you want them to change
- Support ethical and sustainable brands that build up communities rather than exploit them
- Use what you already own, and repair your clothes when it breaks
- Support causes and charities that fight for garment workers’ rights – like War on Warrant or the Clean Clothes campaign
- Acknowledge your role as a consumer, and talk to people around you about fast fashion
- Shop second hand, vintage or pre-loved
- Arrange clothing swaps with friends or family to avoid buying new
- Engage in online campaigns like #PayUp to put pressure on brands to pay their workers
How much are garment workers paid?
- The average wage for garment workers in Bangladesh is $25 a month, while the average living costs are far more, workers are not paid enough to provide shelter, education, and food for their families
- To put it into perspective, the average factory worker in Australia is paid $25.7 an hour
- In four days a fast fashion CEO earns a garment worker’s lifetime pay
- Workers in some factories work up to 140 hours of overtime each month, working until 2 am, they are not additionally compensated for overtime or provided with healthcare
- 60% of workers were unable to meet production targets – in one factory the target for each worker was to produce 20 ladies shirts every hour. Learn more via War on Warrant.
When it comes to the fashion industry, there are lots of aspects to consider, but luckily there is more than one solution as well. If you want to know more about the impact of some of the aspect the fashion, check out my video about cotton and conventional vs organic cotton production