No Exit

Bangladesh children's clothing Ethical Shopping garment factory Katrina Onstad Musings worker safety

This hand belongs to a real person who deserves to be treated with respect

This hand belongs to a real person who deserves to be treated with respect

I’ve already shared with you my outrage about the lax safety standards in garment factories that have led to the deaths of hundreds of workers overseas in the past few years, workers sewing clothing for us and for our children. But our outrage, however deeply felt at the moment of a catastrophe, is clearly not making an impact on the safety of workers, particularly those in Bangladesh, and I just can’t let it go.

These are not rare events. The devastating fire that killed more than 100 people in a garment factory in Bangladesh last week was notable only for its scale. Authorities declared that the loss of life would have been dramatically lower if the exits had not been locked from the outside.

Why would any company allow its products to be made in a facility that permits workers’ lives to be put at risk? Are we truly willing to sacrifice human life in exchange for low labour costs? What’s stopping us from demanding answers to these questions?

Katrina Onstad wrote an excellent article in The Globe and Mail last week on this subject entitled “The real cost of our ‘fast fashion’ consumption culture.” I encourage you to read it if you’re interested, not to provoke guilt but rather to increase mindfulness. The link is here.

I know very well, of course, that on the subject of children’s clothing it’s far more pleasant to think about beautiful colour and design, and natural to celebrate a great bargain.  But unless we all pay a little more attention to how our clothing is made, and start demanding that manufacturers meet standards of human fairness and safety, nothing is going to change.

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