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From Labor Camps to Landfills

A story of consumerism

Have you ever thought about what happens when you are done with your clothing? Has the price tag on your garments ever elicited questioning where it came from? If your answering yes - hands clapping. You are definitely ahead of the game. If your answering no, you're not alone. In fact, to be completely honest, it wasn't until a few years ago that I was right there, alongside you. My primary criteria for shopping looks fell into two categories of what looked good on and what I could afford. However, in the time since I have learned so much and knowing really is half the battle.

One of the biggest issues we need to overcome is consumption. Fast fashion is more than just a catch hashtag, it's a disease that is rotting our minds, our world and humankind. Not only can companies not keep up with demands, but due to high demands on goods, they have also subcontracted to prison labor, simply to keep up with our desire to shop, shop and shop a little bit more.

The second biggest issue to jump over lies within waste. According to recent research, 60% of all clothing produces ends up in a landfill within one year. When I first read this statistic, it seems hard to believe. But there is more. The average woman in the United States, (which if you didn't know continues to carry the largest carbon footprint), throws away 37 pairs of denim away annually. That's right - annually!! How is this possible? It seems unfathomable, but it's happening.

From consumption to waste - fashion has become a revolving door without any thought to the why, where and how.

Labor camps, mostly filled with religious/spiritual persons who have been falsely accused of crimes, are making our clothing. Free labor creates the best margins. In 2013, the camps alone brought in an annual dollar amount equal to 32% of the world's overall retail profit.

What can we do about it? In 1997, according to "Made in China", an audit discovered that Nike was involved in child labor and sweatshops. Initially dismissing these charges, consumerism changed their minds. Or rather, non-consumerism. It was organizers/activists from 40 universities nation-wide, who rallied people to stop consuming with Nike until changes were made. Guess what happened?