The truth about cheap clothes

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The truth about cheap clothes

Dinyar Godrej writes about the problems of making and buying cheap clothes.

I met someone who said he bought a lot of t-shirts from the large and very cheap store Primark. He wore them for two days each and then threw them away because it was easier than washing his clothes.

I don’t know if it was true but there is a big difference between the idea of buying lots of cheap fast fashion and the damage it does. There is a lot of misery behind these bargains – for example, the environmental damage of growing cheap cotton and the bad treatment of workers. The costs are mostly in the Global South and the ‘benefits’ are mostly in the rich countries.

A newspaper report says that we make about 100 billion cheap clothes every year. A lot of these clothes have a short life with the customer. We will not use them again and we throw them away or send them for recycling to a place like Panipat in India. There they will make them into the $2 blankets that aid agencies give out after disasters and they fall apart after a year. Now even this awful recycling is at risk because of cheap fleece blankets (really plastic) from China.

This is all a long way from the shop. Who has the responsibility for this waste – the customer, the industrial producer, or the idea that this is how we do things?


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