On the 19th of September a film called The True Cost will be shown at The Northern Light Cinema Wirksworth. This film has made waves in the fashion industry already before its release. There are a lot of companies worth millions that would prefer the general public not to be aware of it. Of course the general public are aware to some extent of the toll the fashion industry has. The Fair Trade accreditation has been visible on packets of biscuits and tea and other things for some time now. As well as this some shops are dedicated to only stocking fair trade and Towns can now gain a ‘Fair Trade Town’ accreditation. Wirksworth in fact is one of them.
Even though we see this symbol and we know about unfair wages, we also know about other factors, such as the fact that in the countries with a very poor GDP the ‘living wage’ is much lower; So hearing the ‘1pence an hour’ fact is then moderated by this other knowledge. Perhaps thats a bad wage by our UK standard but not so bad in Bangladesh etc. This is something we all do. There are valid factors as well, such as Child labour -these words have a very bad reputation, but in some countries its part of their culture to go out into the fields for the few weeks of Harvest Time, its a community event, and it doesn’t mean missing school. It used to happen in the UK too. Also what we term ‘Child’ may be different in another country, perhaps Child status stops at 14 not 18 for example.
However, and this is a big however, these perfectly reasonable rational’s are used again and again to justify behaviour that does not fit them. The above circumstances don’t cover working conditions. They don’t cover environmental pollution, they don’t cover workers rights, they don’t cover sick pay, maternity leave, all things that in the UK we have come to expect. Where are the inspectors, the standards that companies have to meet? Who safeguards these workers of any age?
Again and again I hear people boasting or being proud of a bargain they got in a high street sale for £1.00!! But what does that cover? It doesn’t even cover the cost of the fabric to make it let alone the time. What does this truly mean? Where were the costs cut to get it down to that price? If it is eBay, charity shop, a car boot or a second hand shop then there can be some pride in it, but if its not, I think this is something we have to change, to start to question.
What can we say to a person shouting about how cheap a high street piece of clothing is that is kind and not confrontational, that allows people to understand what The True Cost is? “Gosh I wonder who managed to make it for that price?” its near impossible not to cause offence. Perhaps just educating ourselves and shareing the facts we have learn’t is a more positive & proactive way of going about it.
We hope you and your friends can join us on the 19th to see this ground breaking documentary, orthat you can get to a showing near you; And that this information can be shared and shared again until disasters like the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh become a terrible thing that happened a long time ago but that don’t belong in our more caring world today.