Rana Plaza and did we really change?

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April 24th marked 10 years since the Rana Plaza Disaster in Bangladesh. Rana Plaza was a multi storey building that housed offices and shops on the lower levels and garment factories on the upper. There were complaints about the building structure from garment workers which were ignored by the factory owners and whilst employees from the businesses on the lower levels were evacuated, the garment workers were forced to return to work under threat of losing their jobs.


Photo of the crash site and devastion in2013 by Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

When the building came crashing down 1,134 people were killed, more than 2,500 injured mostly young women. The incident was the fourth largest disaster in industrial history and the largest in the garment industry.

In the wake of the disaster the International Labour Organization launched a campaign for full and fair compensation to families of the victims, initiatives were brought in by the Accord for Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, both were designed to bring garment factories in Bangladesh up to international standards.

So, what does this mean in real terms?

 For me it made to question my entire relationship with shopping and consumption in general. I watched true cost, a documentary about where our clothes come from, I cried.  Trying to place accountability for who is a fault is tricky. Brands are responding to consumer demands and competition that is a race to the bottom, the agents / intermediaries hustling for the speediest and cheapest results and the factory saddled with a situation of provide results or get dropped for a company that will do it cheaper and faster.

The key in the exploitation of workers is that consumers do not want to see the ugly side of their lifestyle. We don’t want to see the calf brought to the proverbial slaughter.  

This topic is multi-layered, it’s nuanced and it’s not something that’s limited to fast fashion brands, the language used by brands when describing their practices is intentionally opaque and misleading.

There is a term that beautifully encapsulates this technique called ‘greenwashing’.

Definition: behaviour or activities that make people believe that a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is

Hands hold a sign that reads 'FASHION IS A FRAUD'.

 Protesters have targeted fashion brands faking their sustainability credentials.()

 We are fed exhausting and contradicting messages constantly and truthfully sometimes you just want to buy something cute without encroaching on other humans’ rights. With this in mind, I don’t just think it’s possible to develop a more ethical and sensible framework for production, it’s necessary and fundamental. It makes good business sense because we really do care about what we consume.


So what is my great solution to this? Just don’t buy it, its honestly that simple. Buy less and buy better.

Resources to check out:

Fashion Revolution for more information: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/

The true cost documentary: https://truecostmovie.com/

Eco age:  https://eco-age.com/

 Clean Clothes:  https://cleanclothes.org/


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