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Dialogical Essay - Fast Fashion

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Dialogical essay

Rachel Doll

19 March 2015

Fast Fashion

Elizabeth Cline: The industry of cheap clothing has skyrocketed within the last decade in the United States. There is not much to be said about the positive aspects of fast fashion except that it provides clothing for the public at a very low price. It is said that the “fashion cycle” has increased dramatically which means that consumers are going shopping weekly for clothing rather than seasonally. Manufacturers and large corporations take advantage of foreign countries and their citizens in order to produce in the fastest but most importantly cheapest way possible. For example, retail giants refuse to create workplace safety regulations for their foreign factories. A factory in Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh and 1,129 underpaid workers lost their lives. The Accord on Fire and Safety in Bangladesh created a union-sponsored agreement which states that funds must be provided in order to upgrade the infrastructure and safety equipment of factories throughout their country. Unfortunately, “US retail giants Gap, Walmart, Macy’s, Sears, Target, L.L Bean and Kohl are among the seventeen companies that have shunned the deal in favor of a much weaker pact, called the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker safety”(Movement 1). This alliance believes that these foreign countries should be forced to fix their own factories or else retailers will cut all ties with them. Over all, these people are forced to risk their lives everyday they show up to work. As an activist as well as author about the harmful effects of fast fashion, I believe I have valuable insight as to how this problem should be resolved. Fast fashion is out of control but sadly is not going anywhere anytime soon. It is important that laws are passed in order to better the working conditions for the hard workers because all lives matter.

Luz Claudio: I agree, the fashion industry has crossed many moral lines Mrs. Cline. The lives that were taken by not only the Rana plaza incident as well as many others are tragic. I believe it is important that we focus on not only the lives of this generation, but also those to come. Fast fashion is killing the environment and it is necessary that we regulate how toxins and textiles are disposed of as well as promote the use of environmentally friendly textiles. Each step of the clothing process carries the potential for an environmental impact. For example, “conventionally grown cotton, one of the most popular clothing fibers, is also one of the most water and pesticide-dependent crops (Waste 2)”. These waste products are then carelessly dumped into ponds and other water sources. This textile is just one of the many that is polluting water all around the world. As the chief in the Division of International Health at the mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, I believe these companies need some ground rules.

Elizabeth Cline: I am familiar with your work Dr. Claudio and I too believe the fashion industry needs to be put in line. Sadly, we can not blame solely the producers for polluting the environment. You stated in your Waste Couture article that consumers play a huge role as well. You wrote:

According to the EPA Office of Solid Waste, Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of textiles per persons per year, and clothing and other textiles represent about 4% of the municipal solid waste. But this figure is rapidly growing.(Waste 3)

You must realize that clothing is thrown away in today’s world because consumers no longer see it’s value after wearing it a couple times because they bought it at a low price and it is cheaply made. These items no longer obtain quality because foreign workers are put under high stress until they finish large orders with very little time. You stated in your article that according to “the U.S. National Labor Committee, some Chinese workers make as little as 12-18 cents per hour working in poor conditions”( Waste 2). Most of these factory workers have poor sewing skills because they were not trained accordingly. This problem looks like the snowball effect which starts with the workers. If the clothing was cheap but also nicely made, consumers would most likely care about the garment more and not throw it away. In order to to protect the environment, we have to protect the workers.

Luz Claudio: I see where you are coming from Cline, but consumers will throw away any type of clothing if it stained, ripped, or faded. Times have changed therefore the everyday person is not willing to mend their old clothing and price does not play a role in this phenomenon. By replacing harmful textiles like cotton with “hemp, bamboo, and other fiber crops that require less pesticides, irrigation and other inputs” we can insure that the clothing that is not donated or recycled will decompose (Waste 5). I must also state that “about 45% of these textiles continue their life as clothing, just not domestically” when they are donated properly. By keeping textiles out of landfills, we are saving the environment while clothing people all around the world.

Karen Hansen: Unfortunately Dr. Claudio, these imports of second hand clothing are killing the local garment industries in foreign countries such as Zambia. They are unable to produce the clothing of their culture because resale of second-hand clothing is taking over. These imports are able to be sold and made a profit of, but this “business” is under developed and dangerous. These garments come from all around the world and all kinds of people therefore they are not all treated with the same amount of care. They are packaged and shipped dirty and full of disease such as STDs. According to “a union representative from Lesotho expressed a similar misconception when he explained that in most cases, this clothing leaves its overseas destinies to be donated to the poor and destitute in the developing countries, but end up in market stalls” (Hindering 3). The environment and people around the world are important, but creating regulations for the second hand fashion market should be the nation's main concern.

Luz Claudio: As an expert in my field, Mrs. Hansen, I believe your plan to be wrong. I can see as a reporter you cannot understand the full impact of this issue therefore I won’t judge your intelligence, but the environment is much more important than the economy and production of foreign countries. Their factories most likely are significant polluters. You even stated in your Helping or Hindering article:

That it is easy, but too facile, to blame salaula (second hand trading)  for the dismal performance of Zambias textile and clothing industry. Numerous textile and garment manufacturers closed down in the early 1990s, not because of salaula imports but because they were already moribund. (Hindering 5)

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