For this assignment, we were asked to write a reflection on a topic that pertained to a movie of our choosing. I chose to focus on globalization while watching the movie The True Cost. This is a story about clothes; the changes, repercussions, and impact that they have taken on the planet and the people working behind the scenes. This documentary takes us on a journey around the world and provides an eye-opening revelation of how many problems there are, and the people taking steps to make things better in our billion dollar industry. “This is a story about clothing — it’s about the clothes we wear. The people who make these clothes and the impact that it’s having on our World. It’s a story about greed and fear. Power and poverty.”
The documentary begins by exploring issues surrounding the constant cheapening of products and steady decline in price. There is a particular focus on how milking these prices directly affects the 40 million garment workers, the working conditions, and the enormous effects cutting of costs can have on their working environments — with examples like the Rana Plaza building collapse and the Ali Enterprises and Tarzeen fashion fires. The further explore the daily lives of garment factory workers in Bangladesh, some of the lowest paid garment workers in the World. They often work for as little as $3 per day, forcing them to be unable to afford to provide safe living conditions, food to feed their children, or the ability to send them to school.
Next, the documentary goes to explore better options for manufacturing clothing and gives the viewers’ insight into brands that are aiming to produce fashion more ethically. This is where we meet Safia Minney, the founder of The People Tree, a fair trade clothing designer. The team also begins discussing the agricultural side of the industry and we meet Larhea Pepper.She is an organic cotton producer from Texas whose husband died as a result of chemical intensive farming. This leads into a fairly lengthy discussion throughout various parts of the movie to the shoe the effects of chemicals used in processing the clothing and the multitude of people coming into contact with them. For example, in India the cotton farmers are required to purchase genetically modified seeds (or GMOs) from Monsanto each year for astronomical rates that in turn put them into a great deal of debt. Compound that with the amount of the pesticides the Punjab region (specifically) is required to use and you’ve got a recipe for the highest number or farmer suicides (one every 30 minutes) and 70-80% of children being born with birth defects. Similiarly, a situation is happening along the Kanpur river where leather tanneries are dumping toxic chemicals like Chromium 6 into the river which is having direct environmental effects on the communities drinking water, food supply, and many others areas.
One of the last issues focused on was the mental health of consumers. We are told of studies have proven that the more materialistic people become, the less happy they are — something that is wildly different to the message that is fed to us by the advertising world. A massive 80 billion pieces of new clothing purchased each year contribute to the more than 1 million tons of textiles discarded into countless landfills each year. Many of those garments will then sit for hundreds of years before fully breaking down.