Fast fashion is having a detrimental effect on our precious ecosystems and global social justice. The following 8 films will give you a comprehensive summary of the problems perpetuated by the cheap clothing industry. I recommend watching them in order to follow the supply chain from genetically-modified cotton seed to your washing machine at home.
The True Cost – a great film to get you moving down the sustainable fashion road. This film takes you all over the world to witness the life cycle of a piece of clothing, from the crop to the runway. Featuring a stellar interview line-up, The True Cost summarizes the issues which are covered in more detail in the other films listed below.
Bitter Seeds – focuses in particular on India, the world’s largest exporter of cotton. This film investigates the correlation between the staggering suicide rates among Indian farmers and the introduction of Monsanto engineered GMO cotton seeds. Bt cotton was created to alleviate stress on farmers by reducing the need for pesticides, unfortunately it has had the reverse effect.
China Blue – The second film by Micha Peled in his Globalization series, delves deeply into Chinese denim production. This rough and ready documentary – which the Chinese government tried to shut down – exposes the conditions of abuse in garment factories and lends a voice to those workers.
RiverBlue – follows renowned river expert Mark Angelo on his journey to speak up for our world’s rivers. The human and spiritual connections with water are omnipresent around the world but this relationship is slowly being deteriorated. The waterways in China, India, Indonesia and other major textile or leather processing countries are being filled with toxic wastewater, killing off the wildlife and poisoning the humans that live around it. At the end of the doc, a ray of hope in the shape of sustainable fashion brands that are inventing new, less polluting ways to get the faded denim look.
In the Sweatshop series, Deadly Fashion and The Hunt for a Living Wage, teenage Norwegian fashion bloggers travel to Cambodia in order to live the life of a garment worker. This series highlights the endemic poverty caused by the industry and the struggle of the (largely female) workforce who are routinely denied a basic living wage.
Clothes to Die For – 1,134 people died on April 23rd, 2013 when a garment factory collapsed. A further 2,500 people were injured, many of whom were trapped under rubble for days. The tragedy at Rana Plaza is the main focus of the film Clothes to Die For, where Zara Hayes investigates the incident considered to be the deadliest structural failure in modern history and attempts to name those responsible for the corruption, negligence and greed that lead to the death of 1,134 garment workers.
Freightened – You’ve heard of food miles, but what about shoe miles? Or little black dress miles? Or acid-wash ripped skinny jeans miles? All items of clothing will have a “Made in …” label, but this only tells you where the final assembly of that piece took place. What is not communicated is the vast distances the plastic buttons, or the zippers have travelled before being sewn onto fabric and shipped out once more. Freightened takes a look at our global shipping industry as a whole and how this system stimulates conflict and inequality.
To finish up, no sustainability blog post would be worth the server it’s hosted on, without mentioning the dreaded plastic in the oceans. This last clip on my recommended list may be short and animated, but it is no less important. This one concerns you directly and may make you think twice about washing your polyester leggings after every wear.