If you have been following Palace of Bliss for a while, you know that I am trying to inform you about the issues in the clothing industry. I also show you what goes well in the clothing industry, which brands are fair, and which materials are sustainable. Despite the fact that there are many good initiatives, unfortunately, there is also a lot of wrong in the clothing industry. To give you an impression of what exactly is wrong, I have listed the five biggest issues in the fashion industry for you.
1. Low wages
A major problem in the clothing industry is that wages are way too low. In many countries where our clothing is made, the minimum wage is far below the living wage. A living wage is a wage that is sufficient to be able to meet all basic needs. Many clothing workers earn a salary that is insufficient to meet the basic needs. Because of this many clothing workers are malnourished, which causes health problems.
Factories and governments keep the salaries so low, in order to be more attractive for the Western countries to place their orders. The lower the price, the greater the chance that an order goes to your country or factory instead of the competitor. And the clothing workers are the victims of this.
2. Bad working conditions
Besides that employees in the clothing industry get paid too little, they also carry out their work under poor working conditions. Employees sometimes work sixteen hours a day. Overtime is often not paid out, but employees are obligated to work anyways. If they do not work for free, they might lose their jobs. Stories of employees who are not allowed to take a pause and are (sexually) intimidated are no exception.
As a result of the long working days (in combination with not enough food), many employees are struggling with health problems. Because the employees do the same work continuously for hours, at poorly equipped workplaces, many of them suffer from RSI.
3. Environmental issues
The clothing industry is after petroleum, the most polluting industry in the world. This is partly due to the fact that the cultivation of cotton is demanding and polluting. For the cultivation of one kilo of cotton, about 10,000 liters of water is needed. This causes water shortages for the local population and the soil is affected.
Furthermore, pesticides are used in the conversion of cotton and it is often dyed before it is made into a garment. This is all harmful to the environment. It contaminates the soil and surface water. This has consequences for all flora and fauna in surrounding areas.
In addition to cotton production, the production of fabrics such as polyester, wool and nylon also have a significant impact on the earth. Time and again, the production of these substances ensures emissions and pollution.
4. Animal suffering
Unfortunately, animals are often also victims of atrocities in the clothing industry. On the one hand, animals become victims of the clothing industry because their habitat is used and polluted for the production of clothing. On the other hand, they are victims because they are used as raw materials. Leather, fur, wool, and silk are all fabrics made from animals.
In most cases, the animals are kept under miserable conditions. Animals such as sheep and angora rabbits are shaved time after time in a gruesome and painful way. As soon as they no longer produce enough wool, they will die a cruel and painful death. Just like the animals destined for leather, silk, and fur.
5. Child labor
In relation to a number of years ago, child labor is already a lot less. As a result, you will not quickly see a child working in a clothing factory. In areas where there is less control, such as in smaller workshops and workshops in houses, child labor unfortunately still occurs. In addition, it often happens that children are found working on cotton plantations in countries such as Turkey.
These children are forced to work because their parents earn too little. Without the contribution of the child, some families will have a harder time to make ends meet. While helping to earn a living, they miss the chance of education and thus the chance of a better future.
You can make a difference
As you can see, there is still enough room for improvement in the clothing industry. The good news is that you can contribute, by (more often) choosing fair and ethical clothing. After all, with your wallet, you send a signal that you like to wear clothes that are made in a way that is good for the people, earth, and animals. If you want to know which brands are fair, you can always take a look at the Palace of Bliss Fair Fashion Guide.
Another way is to ask your favorite clothing brand how and where their clothing was produced. And by asking them to switch to a fair and sustainable production method. The more people do this, the faster this will contribute to change in the clothing industry.
Did you already know that these are the biggest issues in the clothing industry?