Tag: aly

The Race to Destruction: Fast Fashion’s Effects on the World and Society

Since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, there has been a steady incline in the efficiency of clothing manufacturing, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that clothing companies began to really produce garments with intense speed. Fashion became easily accessible to the public for consumption at lower costs than ever before; the allure of having trendy and fashionable pieces in one’s closet catalyzed more demand for these cheap and fast clothes. Fast forward to 2019, and clothing brands such as H&M, Forever 21, Zara, Charlotte Russe, and TOPSHOP are everywhere and dominate the closets of children and adults alike. Who wouldn’t pass up a $3.90 pair of leggings or a $4 dress? This cycle of the production of “fast-wearing” clothes and even faster consumerism has paved the way for detrimental consequences for the producer, the environment, and the consumer.

 

Cheap labor is the euphemism, in this case, for sweatshop workers who unfortunately do not make enough money to surpass the poverty line–the workers who live heavily-clustered in slums without the basic necessities and resources needed to have a decent quality of life. In the 1990s, the textile industry began moving overseas at an extremely high rate–fewer labor laws overseas would lead to the opportunity to rapidly amass products and cheaply sell them without having to worry about workers’ wages and rights. The sweatshops aren’t safe; “accidental mass killings” aren’t just a tragedy of the early 20th century. They still happen even in the most technologically advanced generation we’ve seen thus far. In 2013, the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing at least 1,138 workers making clothes. In response to this incident, a European-led coalition of unions and allied NGOs (non-governmental organizations) teamed up to work with Bangladeshi labor groups to create a worker safety initiative focused on empowering workers themselves, adopted largely by European firms and led by H&M but also adopted by several major U.S. brands. Even with such a development, the initiative has had some trouble staying afloat, and there is still more that needs to be done. How can we support the abuse and complete disregard of the very people that give us the things we crave most? Textile factories have also been found to be ripe with the foul stench of human trafficking, found even in the United States. Girls and women promised jobs and opportunity come only to be bound to a cycle of abuse and servitude; real people in terrible situations are grossly underpaid, mistreated, taken advantage of, subjected to devastating health problems, and even dying- to make disposable clothing for the “lucky” us, the consumers.

 

This radical mass production creates pollution, and the mass waste caused by consumers carelessly tossing old garments contributes to utter environmental chaos. During the farming process for cotton, the pesticides that are used are being linked to cancer and birth defects in farmers’ children in the Punjab region of India, as well as contributing to the development of a brain tumor in the case of one Texan farmer. The production of cotton, though only making up “2.4 percent of the world’s crops… is responsible for 24 percent of global insecticide sales and 11 percent of global pesticide sales,” as well as the immense consumption of freshwater–one t-shirt can take up to 2,700 liters of water to make–and the facts don’t stop there. American clothing waste, nearly 3.8 billion pounds annually, ends up in landfills, which amounts to nearly 80 pounds of textile per American citizen–which seems practically unimaginable. In addition, over 80 billion pieces of clothing are purchased each year, mostly by Americans, even though the clothing was made in outsourced low-income countries such as China and Bangladesh. The factory workers’ subjection to environmentally unstable working and living situations is appalling, yet Americans can’t seem to decrease their demand for trendy and cheap clothing. Textile waste begets the production of methane during decomposition and the dyes and chemicals used to color and create the textiles could sink into the soil; whole communities and agricultural systems are crumbling due to mass production of fast fashion.

 

As a modern consumer, there seems to be something extremely satisfying about inserting a card into a chip reader and walking out of a store with a new purchase. With fast-fashion retailers churning out new trends and styles many more times a year than in the high-fashion realm–either as a continuous release or around 12 seasons for fast-fashion retailers versus 2 seasons for typical high fashion–buyers are armed with the caveat that they must shop then and there in order to stay up-to-date with the most current style. Having this feeling of staying on top of “the game” tends to bring an immense feeling of instant gratification when compulsory shopping, a feeling that is catalyzed with each swipe or chip read, and to keep feeling that instant gratification, we buy. This cycle can very easily turn into an addiction with us giving immense support and money to the factories and fast-fashion companies.

 

As the public eyes turn more towards to atrocities associated with fast fashion production and retail, hopefully, change will come. Remove fast fashion from your spending habits, buy second-hand clothes, boycott the fast fashion industry, or even just learn about and advocate for sustainable clothing.

 

Sources:

Ross, Robert J.S. “The High Toll of Fast Fashion.” Dissent Magazine, http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/the-true-cost-review-fast-fashion-rana-plaza-accord.

Morgan, Andrew, director. The True Cost. 2015.

Bailey, Carolyn. “Slow Down: Fast Fashion Has Harmful Effects.” Trusted Clothes, 10 Sept. 2016, http://www.trustedclothes.com/blog/2016/02/09/slow-down-fast-fashion-has-harmful-effects/.

“The Impact of a Cotton T-Shirt.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, 16 Jan. 2013, http://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/the-impact-of-a-cotton-t-shirt.

Bick, Rachel, et al. “The Global Environmental Injustice of Fast Fashion.” Environmental Health, vol. 17, no. 1, 2018, doi:10.1186/s12940-018-0433-7.

 

To learn more, watch The True Cost on Netflix.

 

By: Aly Sickles

 

Why Travel Is So Important

We live our lives in a truly connected time; it seems that every day we are learning lessons that show us that in the modern age, humans are more globally connected than at any other point in history— languages can be learned in a matter of months just by opening an app, pictures from virtually any place on Earth can be shared with anybody and everybody, and more of us are learning about other cultures more quickly and easily than ever before. The interest in travel is increasing, but many are still left dreaming of a week lounging under the Indonesian sun or walking on glaciers in Iceland without any catalyst for action, and if more people knew the benefits, other than the stunning photos and experiences, of travel, that would change. I’ve been to eight countries in seventeen years, and I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my voyages. Here are some of the highlights:

 

 

  • Travel teaches you first-hand how to adapt to (almost) any situation

 

      • The beautiful pictures you see on Instagram only show a small fraction of travel, often hiding the not-so-beautiful trials faced during travel. From losing baggage to getting sick in a country where you’re not fluent in the language, many things can go wrong, but you learn to adapt and problem solve.

 

  • You can get to know other people and cultures for yourself, not just through a lease, textbook, or screen.

 

      • In the age of social media, it’s easy to look at somebody’s profile, acknowledge that they live somewhere cool, and then move on with your life. When you travel, you get to learn what life is like for other people, for the most part, and you begin to appreciate the difference between cultures.

 

  • You lose the -isms (“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” – M. Twain”)

 

    • Travel reveals that, no matter who you are or where you live, we all share cultural universals–a sociological principle that establishes the fact that the human race is more alike than many nowadays seem to think. Humanity is interconnected, and discovering that will open up a sympathetic, and more importantly empathetic, door.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” – M. Twain

 

  • You gain experiences that, while shared with others, are wholly personal

 

      • Your own experiences are just that– your own. When traveling, you get to keep something all for yourself to hold dear in your heart, and to hold on to forever.

 

  • You gain a better appreciation for life

 

      • It’s the little things– the sunrise over the bustling morning market in Marrakech or the crowded faces around flaming embers in Finland– that truly make life beautiful. When you travel, you’re able to find more of those moments in your own daily life, and your normal suddenly becomes vibrant and beautiful.

 

  • You get a break from the humdrum of daily routine.

 

      • Let’s face it: daily routine becomes boring after doing the same things day in and day out. When you travel, you are able to have a great recess from the monotony we tend to get stuck in.

 

  • Life is short, why not live it to the fullest?

 

    • The lifespan of an average American is only 78 years; why not have as many adventures as possible? To explore is to fulfill a rather youthful desire in one’s heart, and to do so brings such a fundamental joy.

 

With all of the lovely things that the world has to offer, why not take advantage of anything you can? Travel isn’t always easily accessible, but it could also be walking on a different road or reading a book from the library about a different country; anybody can travel anywhere they’d like and reap the benefits that it brings. Peace out.

 

By: Aly Sickles

“Smallfoot” Movie Review

Are you looking for a new animated movie to enjoy with your family? One that is family friendly and shares a valuable lesson? Well, you’re in luck! The new animated movie “Smallfoot” has just hit the theaters, and everyone you know is either talking about it or about to be. The cast includes famous actors and actresses like Zendaya Coleman, Lebron James, Channing Tatum, and James Cordon! You don’t want to miss out on this phenomenal cast. Another reason to watch the movie is that it carries an important lesson that anyone can learn from–it teaches viewers to never judge others by their appearance and to trust the people around you. This movie is just as entertaining for adults as it is for young children. The soundtrack has catchy songs, the adventure will keep everyone wanting more, and the movie’s stellar comedy will make anyone laugh.  The movie starts off introducing us to a civilization of Yetis who believe that humans are dangerous. It all starts with a Yeti known as Migo–while adventuring, he notices a human-sized shoe and footprints on the floor. Once he notices the strange footprint, he goes home, triumphantly chanting that he has found a “smallfoot.” Everyone dismisses his excitement and considers him to be delusional. However, Migo’s friends trust him and believe that there is another “creature” other than a Yeti. The adventurous band of friends decide to search for the mysterious human to prove that they are real.

 

The Yetis start by going separate ways to find the human and, eventually, come across many clues. Migo and Meechee head far away from their home into the unknown and soon find a human store. Eventually, a human appears and Migo attempts to talk to the young man. Much to his dismay, though, the human can’t understand what the Yeti is saying. Communication between the two doesn’t work very well since their languages are both different. On the other hand, the young human, played by James Corden, is shocked by the event. The movie soon reveals to the audience that he has studied Yetis his whole life. Despite the initial shock, the two begin to admire each others’ presences; the human begins to take pictures of the Yeti while vlogging his unexpected experience. Migo is confused by the young man’s actions, but continues to attempt to communicate with the man. James is taken aback by the Yeti’s insistence and believes that the creature is starting to threatening him. He suddenly faints from fear, and the Yeti cheerfully picks up the human to show off to the other Yetis back home. In conclusion, “Smallfoot” is a fun, feel-good movie that will engage the audience from the start to end. Don’t forget to hit the theaters when you have a chance! You don’t want to miss this amazing movie!

 

By: Aly Sickles