15 Facts I Learned Through Netflix and Chill

By now, we have all heard of sustainability, fair trade, and fast fashion; but do we really know what these buzz words mean to the makers of our clothes? There are many documentaries out now providing stories about the garment workers and the conditions they work in, what they are working towards, and how we as consumers contribute to their lives. I watched 4 documentaries and made a list of the 15 most mind-blowing facts about the secret side of the industry. 

  1. In the 1960's, 95% of our clothing was produced in America. Today, only 3% is produced in America, and the rest is outsourced to developing countries. (The True Cost, 2015)
  2. The fashion industry employs 40 million garment workers and 83% are women. (Living Wage Now)
  3. Tazreen,a garment factory in Bangladesh, was in a nine story building that caught on fire in November of 2012. The building was only permitted to be a three story building, there were no fire escapes, doors were locked, and the windows were barred so the workers could not get out. 112 workers were killed, making it the second largest garment factory fatality in history. (Made in Bangladesh)
  4. Clothing production has quadrupled in Bangladesh in the last decade. (Fashion Victims)
  5. Only 10% of donated clothes make it into the thrift store; the rest is sent to 3rd world countries, and what is not used by them is thrown into the dump. (The True Cost)
  6. 80 million new pieces of clothing are purchased each year in America. (The True Cost)
  7. The average American throws away 82 pounds of textile waste each year. (The True Cost)
  8. The Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) is an international alliance of trade unions and labor rights groups that are pushing for higher standards. If they are able to get these motions approved, only $0.10 would be added onto the retail price of a shirt. (Living Wage Now)
  9. The workers included in the AFWA have been asking for the same demands for the last 30 years. (Living Wage Now)
  10. Workers are often forced to work overtime without being paid. (Made in Bangladesh)
  11. Monsanto, a cotton company, created a genetically modified seed to create a monopoly on the cotton seed industry. The farmers get into very deep debt due to the amount of seeds they are required to purchase. Many farmers are unable to pay back this money, so Monsanto takes their land. Over the last 16 years, 250,000 farmer suicides have been recorded in India due to their inability to pay their debt. (The True Cost)
  12. In Punjab, India - where most of India's cotton is grown - 70 to 80 kids in every village have severe handicap or mental retardation caused by the amount of pesticides and fertilizers used on the cotton crops. (The True Cost)
  13. 1,130 workers died during the Rana Plaza accident in Bangladesh in 2013. Despite the owner of the building being informed about the structural cracks, the workers were forced to work and were threatened if they argued. (Fashion Victims)
  14. To make up for the price cuts of cheaper clothes, the money is allocated from what would otherwise be keeping their workers safe. (Made in Bangladesh)
  15. The fashion industry is the #2 world leader in pollution behind the oil industry. (The True Cost)

This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wealth of knowledge available through these documentaries. Whether you are looking for information to guide you on the path to becoming a conscious consumer or browsing through Netflix trying to find something to find, these documentaries and more are at our disposal. 

Documentaires to Watch:

The True Cost by Andrew Morgan. - Available on Netflix

Living Wage Now! by Asia Floor Wage - 

Fashion Victims by JourneyMan Pictures 

Made in Bangladesh by The Fifth Estate 

So You Want to be Sustainable by Ashraf Saifullah - Available on Vimeo

Thread by Michelle Vey Productions - Available through indiegogo