Guest Post: Mckenzie Diep from Valley Christian’s Eco Club

I love finding bargains – especially on clothing. There were always good deals at cheap stores (even if they weren’t necessarily good quality), and I always looked forward to Black Friday. America’s shopping culture makes is so easy to become a shopaholic with its never-ending “sales” and unbelievably low prices. In fact, you don’t even have to get out of bed to pull out your credit card and keep buying (or, if you’re like me, keep “saving”). However, most of these cheap stores are “fast fashion” stores, which rely on outsourcing and bad working conditions in other countries to maximize on profit.

Nowadays, new clothing trends change weekly, forcing workers in sweatshops to make clothing even faster and for cheaper at the expense of their quality of life. These workers are mostly women who are being paid less than $3 a day, many dying from diseases related to the garment industry or from attempted protests for higher wages. Over 1,000 workers died in Dhaka, Bangladesh in the Rana Plaza collapse, when managers forced workers to keep working even when they pointed out cracks in the building. However, these outsourcing companies are desperate for business, and will continue working at lowering prices in order to allow Americans to buy items for even cheaper.

Rana Plaza Collapse

When clothes are this cheap, we start to see them as disposable, like a pack of gum. If there’s a stain, it’s fine because we can just buy a new one. This disposed clothing ends up in landfills or “donated.” In fact, about 84% of donated clothing ends up in landfills. “Unsellable” clothing is packaged in bundles and shipped to less developed countries, where people can purchase clothing from the floors of a “bend over street market.”

So, what can we do to help?