6.12.2008

Blood, Sweat and T-shirts

I'm just feeling thoughtful after viewing a documentary on BBC , "Blood, Sweat and T-shirts". You can check out a more detailed synopsis here , but it basically involves allowing young, spoilt adults who either enjoy or are interested in fashion to see just where clothing originates, and the processes involved. This show exposes the harsh realities of extremely poor labor conditions, third world labor and fair trade, and child labor.

The participants actually travel to countries that manufacturer clothing for both High Street (high end) and discount clothing stores in the UK and U.S. They live and work in the workers' conditions, and see what happens at the low end of the totem pole in the fashion industry. You can read about some of their experiences here. It is truly amazing and sad, to put it lightly, the conditions that workers experience. The cotton fields, cotton factory, sewing factories....they are indescribable. However, it is also emphasized how important these jobs are to the livelihood of the people. It's just a vicious cycle.

I think Martin Buttle's opinion of the issues of ethical trade are very relevant. So, where am I going with this?

I enjoy fashion, shopping and finding cute, affordable clothing for me and my family, as do many others. I sometimes note the country of origin as I look at washing instructions, but never really gave it a second thought. Now I am feeling a bit of guilt for supporting this economy without really being educated in this whole process.

It also emphasizes a silly fact about me. Whenever I buy clothes, I always wash them before wearing. I have had some questionable looks when I am OCD and insist on washing items first. I mean, why would a woman who has loads of washing already just add more? Sometimes one of my daughters will beg to wear it sooner, but I usually refuse. I believed that there were chemicals that were on the clothes that needed to be removed in the wash. After viewing this program, and seeing the unsanitary factory conditions and dirty workers' hands......uh, no way are clothes going on a body before they are washed. Remember-these factories produced clothes for both cheap and expensive brands/stores. Reassuring, eh?

What is the solution? I really have no clear answers. I only have more questions and concerns. I believe that one of the young participants stated that she couldn't condone the conditions, but also couldn't condemn them either since the workers depended on those jobs to maintain their life-as difficult and sad as it existed.

Just something I am thinking about.
I'm feeling a little more appreciative for my life.
Thanks, BBC for this thread and insightful program.

4 fabulous friends:

Rhea said...

Hmmmm, I might need to check this out. I think that sounds like a very interesting and informative documentary.

You know, I realized I needed to start washing new clothes when my younger son had a reaction to a brand new pack of underwear...not a pretty site, totally freaked me out!

Jen4 @ Amazing Trips said...

My husband is TOTALLY the same way. He absolutely will not wear clothes >> any clothes >> before they are washed. Not only the chemicals that might be on them (or the hands that touched them in the factory) but what about people that might have tried them on before you bought them??

I thought it was kind of quirky when I first met him, but now I'm the same way!!

LiteralDan said...

I think it's great that you wrote about such an important topic. I wish more people would think about these things, and I wish we could have real, substantive investigations like this from American TV networks.

Bilary said...

Very interesting. Thank you for sharing this! Wow!