The Impact of Clothes

I opened my closet door and began looking at the labels of all of my clothes and shoes: American Eagle, Ugg, Victoria Secret, Converse, Van, Nike, Hunter, etc. I started to wonder where these items originated from and who was responsible for making them. As I searched the internet only two brands that were found in my closet originated in the United States. American Eagle being one, had some items from the United States, but the rest were from Guatemala, China, India, and Vietnam. Sperry being the second, had its top slider boat shoes originating from only the United States. The rest of my clothing and shoes were from all over the world including, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pacific Island of Saipan, Jordan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, etc.

Before the issue about clothing and sweatshops was brought up in one of my class’s discussions I never wondered about where my clothing came from or who made it. Like the majority of people in American, I just pick an item that appeals to me and buy it. We never take into consideration those kinds of things, we are Americans. A majority of Americans continue to consume things without acknowledging the damage it is having on the environment and other human beings. These clothing companies are paying these countries from all over the world little to nothing for these products that we are consuming. The woman who work in these places are getting paid a maximum of two dollars a day, are working in unsafe working conditions, have no maternity leave, etc. In Bangladesh, a clothing factory collapsed on workers, when management ignored the buildings structure and forced the employees to continue working. The chemicals used in these factories are causing illnesses and deaths and we are still continuing to contribute to this inhumane treatment of mankind, our own kind.

A huge resource used for making clothing is cotton, and scientist have modified this crop to be pest free. Farmers saw this as a huge opportunity, because they would only have to buy the seeds and not the pesticides. What they did not know was that these newly modified seeds were extremely costly and they were not as pest free as they were said to be, which caused farmers to go into debt because they had to pay for pesticides as well. During this time a lot of farmers in India committed suicide and some farmers were even found dead in their fields from the chemicals they were using on their crops. Doctors began to notice a pattern and came to believe these pesticides and fertilizers that farmers were using were causing birth defects in children. If this issue arose while you were purchasing clothing would you still buy it?

Personally, I buy clothing and shoes that are convenient and affordable for me. I have become accustom to the American culture of consuming things from other countries without knowledge, appreciation or any emotion towards the item or for the individual who made it. I feel extremely guilty for not looking into where and who my clothing come from, because I am not only affecting the environment, I am also affecting another human being as well. There are a lot of options offered like buying from American, but that is difficult, because only three percent of clothing is made here in the United States. There is also the option of NGOs, who will put you in contact with people from other countries that will make you clothing, but not everyone can afford that. So what other resources and options do we have, get rid of Capitalism? Is that such a radical question as everyone says it to be? Is it a privilege to be an ethical consumer? As we willing to be the voice for the individuals who have been silenced

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