Monday, July 14, 2014

What We Bear

    I want to continue in a similar track to yesterday's post about the true costs of attire, and expand on what we face as sub-textual choices every time we shop for apparel.
    First we have to come to terms with the inescapable fact that the apparel industry in all its forms is the single largest producer of water borne pollution on earth.  Next we have to understand that as one of the biggest employers of workers in the world, the apparel industry lags far behind in its treatment of workers, meaning that millions, literally, are toiling in substandard factories, in dangerous conditions, for a pittance.

    Now its not a reasonable assumption that all of us have the time or the fortitude to seek out detailed information about the treatment of garment workers for every brand of clothing, and every accessory we wish to purchase.  That's just not feasible.  So we are left with a moral conundrum.  If we purchase items produced by manufacturers who routinely mal-treat their staff, then we are tacitly giving support to those business owners, and without saying it outright, agreeing to their misdeeds. If, however we do not support those businesses by our purchasing power, then those very people who we have concern for will likely go without work at all.
    While this situation is beginning to change somewhat, it has very far to go before the garment workers of the world are treated even adequately well.
    Part of what makes this issue increasingly complex is the very global village we have been trying so hard to build.  Erasing borders and crafting a world spanning culture means that we have greater responsibilities.  No longer do our decisions effect ourselves and those nearest us, but our choices effect people across the world, who we do not know and will never meet.  The very thought of this can be paralyzing, I know.
    When we add the issues around over-consumption, environmental stresses, and pollution into the discussion we get a seemingly intractable mess.  How do we, as individual people, sort out all these factors, and make reasonable choices that have the best impact?
    From where I stand it looks like the wisest choice is to buy quality, and buy less of it.  I know that my own wardrobe is more than half composed of thrifted clothing, and a good deal is things I've made myself.  So I try to deal with this problem as I can.  That said, the siren call of all those wonderful sartorial choices is a hard one to resist.
    In terms of Attire's language, it means trying to choose the words we will employ, thoughtfully.  By that I mean, looking at our wardrobes and seeing where we repeat ourselves.  If for example, I had 12 pairs of black shoes that strongly resembled each other, then perhaps some editing on my part is wise.  There's no real need for lots of iterations of the same apparel word. And if I should edit those things out, they should be moved along to others who can use them, rather than ending up in a dump somewhere.

I would very much like to hear your thoughts on these messy issues.  Who knows?  We might together find some answers that work.

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