The Consequences of Rapid Consumption

Film Recommendation

True Cost (2015)

Following the Trend

This documentary investigates the social and environmental costs of the fashion industry. As described by the filmmakers, Fast Fashion has made significant gains in the garment industry, encouraging consumers to buy more and discard (click for SNL spoof commercial) what is rapidly considered outdated wear. This approach has generated enormous profits at the cost of suppressing labor wages in the developing countries that provide the manufacturing.

Garment worker in Bangladesh

Garment worker in Bangladesh

The human cost to the demand for fashion is very real, and quite relevant. Although not immediately seen by consumers, as it happens (predominantly) outside of the developed world, the impact is no less lethal and alarming. The documentary highlights the factory fires in Bangladesh, culminating in the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24, 2013, where 1,129 garment workers were killed and over twice that number injured. The casualties are a result of the current consumer system that requires costs to be driven as low as possible. Considering that the price of fabric is pretty well a fixed commodity, the savings are exacted from the workers who produce the clothes. Wages are pitifully low and conditions are wretched, all so companies like Zara, H&M, Forever 21, and UNIQLO can sell clothes for outrageously low prices and subsequently cash in even greater profits.

Textile Waste

Mountains of Waste

Not only does this rapid consumption culture enact destructive social costs, but it also contributes greatly to landfill waste as represented by the millions upon millions of tons thrown away annually. This fashion debris, already responsible for consuming significant amounts of water and energy in their manufacture, reverts back to the earth slowly and harmfully, leeching out hazardous toxins and chemicals into the air and water supply. The film merely scratches the surface of such discussions, but it is enough to disquiet the viewer and provoke a number of further questions.

In short, this is a tightly packed documentary seeking to inform consumers of the need to reevaluate their purchasing habits and better understand the necessary costs of their fleeting consumption habits.  Please watch on to learn more.

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