DHAKA, Bangladesh — The police in Bangladesh filed formal murder charges on Monday against 41 people accused of involvement in the 2013 collapse of a building that housed several clothing factories, leaving more than 1,100 people dead in the worst disaster in garment industry history. (New York Times, June 1, 2015) See this short video to learn more.
Some of the companies that the factories at Rana Plaza manufactured apparel for were: Benetton, The Children’s Place, Mango, Joe Fresh, and Walmart.
Rana Plaza was all about fast fashion. (I last wrote about fast fashion here. ) Fast fashion has become an insatiable machine. Large retailers demand frequent new designs and inexpensive clothing which results in demands for short production deadlines. So the factory owners and managers demand long hours in often horrible conditions from their employees.
There are an estimated 4 million people employed by the apparel industry in Bangladesh, most of them women.
There were eight stories of small factories in Rana Plaza. The top three had been built without permits. The day before the collapse the owner of the building was made aware of cracks in the foundation, nevertheless he said the building was safe and the workers were ordered back to work. The building collapse was a structural failure; it was simply not strong enough for the weight of the extra floors and the vibrations of heavy machinery.
While we in the West are not the only ones who “benefit” from fast fashion, we are definitely hooked on it.
But you can’t really expect people to be paid a living wage, for work done in decent surroundings, if you also expect t-shirts to cost the $10 dollars they often do these days. But far too many of us have grown accustomed to prices like that. So why should you care? There are many reasons, but in the case of Rana Plaza, the human toll is the one. Some things are that straightforward.
There are ways in which you can change your habits and get off the shopping merry go ’round. Many of those changes will simplify and improve the quality of your life. For hints on how to do this, please see this excellent post by my friend Esther in her Style & Conversation blog.