Textiles and the Future

Over the weekend, while Max and Stacy were over for soup and podcasting, I popped in Shafiur’s documentary about the garment workers of Bangladesh. Probably should have said this earlier but it is a very good film, with excellent information and images mixed with testimony that are VERY telling about what is happening with the textile manufacturing industry there, and tying it back to the very clothes we are purchasing in shops around the world.

At one point in the film, they mention their fears of the big changes that will come once Europe elimates tarrif’s on Chinese textiles. They didn’t say exactly when this would happen, but Max mentioned that the authority of the European Union on trade has long been going back and forth on actually doing this. Which means it may not be soon… but it could very well be.

In all the images of the textile workers, you get the very clear feeling that their quality of life is not what it should be… it is below what any reasonable person could call humane living conditions. Yet they work for brands, as much of the world has come to know, that charge big money for their prestigious label.

So what if we add another complication to the equation. A country of a few billion people who can do everything for even cheaper, outbid, underprice, and out produce Bangladesh. What will happen to people already walking the tightrope of poverty and death? People who have scraped out a living, even in conditions that make it seem unlikely to be able to do so?

I’m yet to do more extensive research into this topic.. but Im curious to learn about the proposed rules.. or lack of rules.. that the free trade proponents want to adopt. Instead of running around shopping for new clothes for cheap prices, the European public should already be asking their retailer — who made this? Where is it from? And how are workers treated? But after learning these answers, they must take the next step.. and NOT buy those items until basic demands are met for a living wage and human rights for workers, regardless of where they are, are respected.