The True Cost is a documentary film directed by Andrew Morgan. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the devastating impact the fashion industry is having on our world.
The documentary covers the history of how this “fast fashion” industry developed. They question why is it that we are so disconnected from the people who make our clothing? Why aren’t we aware of the impact it’s having on our health, and the natural environment?
It might shock you to know that 97 percent of our clothing is made overseas. The True Cost documentary looks at the human rights violations of the fashion industry, its environmental impact, and gives us many options of how we can “buy better” — without busting the bank.
In the past, clothing was something we held onto for a long time; naturally, we would sew, and repair it. Nowadays, with clothing priced so low, we have begun to view the things we wear as disposable.
There are 80 billion pieces of clothing purchased worldwide each year; up 400 percent from just two decades ago. As new clothing comes into our lives, we also dispose of it at a shocking rate. Only 10 percent of the clothes people donate to thrift stores get sold, the rest end up in landfills or flood markets in developing countries.
Most of these clothes that sit in landfill are non-biodegradable, and release damaging greenhouse gases. The fashion industry is the world’s second-largest polluter. Right behind the oil industry!
As the price of clothing drops, human and environmental costs rapidly grow.
A quarter of a million Indian cotton farmers have committed suicide in the last 15 years, partly as a result of going into debt to buy genetically modified cotton seeds, courtesy of Monsanto. The children of those families are born deformed, and mentally deficient as a result of pesticide exposure.
Cotton farmers in the U.S. are suffering too, as many are dying of cancer. After all, cotton is the most pesticide-intensive crop in the world.
There are around 40 million garment workers in the world today, and so many of them don’t share the same rights or protections that a lot of people in the West do. Over 85 percent are women who make around $3 a day.
These “fast fashion” brands are continuing to hugely profit from their use of cheaper labor in foreign countries, but without the responsibility of fair working conditions for these workers.
In an interview in The True Cost documentary, Dr. Vandana Shiva says:
“We need to recognize that money is just a means, and people should be accountable for how it’s used. We need to celebrate the creative power of human beings, and start talking about creative work — we must stop talking about labor.
“We need to look at the land not as a commodity to be speculated on, and traded, but as the very basis of our life, as mother earth.”
So let’s consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?
Watch the full documentary of The True Cost now.
This video below by Fashion Revolution is an interesting social experiment. It shows, although people love a bargain, they also really do care where their clothing comes from, when they know:
Here is a list of brands that work in different ways for a more sustainable and transparent fashion industry:
- Eileen Fisher
- Stella McCartney
- Red Earth
- Pamela Love (jewelry)
- Clare V (bags/accessories)
- Fashion Project
- People Tree
- Moxie Jean
- Krochet Kids
- Sword and Plough
- Raven + Lily Master and Muse
- Shop Ethica
(If there are others you can think of please leave a link in the comments section below — let’s grow this list!)
So ’tis the season to be jolly, and we can make it the time to buy fewer, better made items that consider not just ourselves, family, or friends, but also the people who make our clothes, and the world we live in.