Television host John Oliver discussed the real price of cheap clothing this week on his insightful and hilarious show, Last Week Tonight. I brought many of the same issues to light in a post on this blog in May of 2013, entitled “The Price of Cheap.”
One of the astounding facts I did not know, which Mr. Oliver brought to light so quickly that I almost missed it, is that the average American bought 64 items of clothing in 2013. That’s a little more than 5 items of clothing every month per person. And that’s just the average.
So for every person who bought less than 5 items a month–like me, who may have purchased 5 items in all of 2013–there’s someone who bought 10 or 12 items per month. That’s an article of clothing every 3 days.
Unless you’re entire closet was recently burglarized, there’s really no reason for this kind of consumption. It’s a waste of money, and, if you’re buying merchandise from H&M. Walmart, or The Gap, you’re simply supporting horrific working conditions, many times involving child labor, which often result in tragedy.
You can make the excuse that it’s almost impossible to know which clothing labels provide a living wage and safe working conditions for the people who manufacture their products. And a few years ago, you might have had a point. But not today.
Today we have the internet. You can find out almost anything about almost anyone, and certainly almost any company, in seconds.
So we need to own up to our part in this. Back off the constant shopping. Find quality clothing companies that make their products here in the USA, or in other countries. Make sure they treat their workers fairly. And buy their products. Tell them why you’re buying their products. Tell your friends why you’re buying their products.
Vote with your dollars. You will be heard.