Fast Fashion Argumentative Essay

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Fellow delegates and distinguished guests, my name is Adelaide Ho from the Australian delegation and it's an honor to speak at this United Nations Forum.

We all love bargains - especially for trendy clothes. But some of our favorite stores like H&M and Zara are lying to us. What we wear is at the expense of a 5-year-old child whose family lives in a slum, or the mother who works tirelessly to earn a few dollars for her disabled daughter.

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In September, Dana Thomas published her book, Fashionopolis, exposing the true price of fast fashion and the extremes companies go to for Judas' 30 pieces of silver. In doing so, she created an uproar within the industry - shocking consumers and terrifying businesses. But the industry is darker than we thought. Instead of facing the consequences of their transgressions, corporations have added locks to the doors struggling to contain their secrets. The more locks they add, the more this issue will be forgotten and ignored.

I'm here not only to expose the abominable practices of the fast fashion industry in Bangladesh and India but to also open our eyes to the power we have as consumers. I know that everyone in this room is here to work towards a future we are proud to call our own. Thus, we must take advantage of the power companies have led us to believe is smoke and mirrors. We must protect those who can't protect themselves.

The treatment of garment workers in Bangladesh is reprehensibly unethical and immoral and we must act now. Every day, workers slave away in unauthorized factories. While we buy beautiful and vibrant clothes for only $5, toxic chemicals seep into the skin of factory workers. While we waltz through breezy, air-conditioned shopping centers, workers scour cotton fields under the blistering sun. For more than 12 hours a day, they work harder and faster -- constantly in fear of unemployment or receiving a black eye from their supervisor. Our $2.4 trillion fashion industry rewards their arduous work by paying them less than $1 per hour.

This is modern-day slavery.

Despite this, the affluent continue to turn a blind eye to reap the benefits of those bound by the shackles of our consumeristic and avaricious society. We'd rather shop for the next fashion season than acknowledge that our purchases fuel the gluttony of global conglomerates.

In August, The Conversation lauded Zara for its strategic fast fashion model. It revealed that to fly above its competitors that manufacture 2000-4000 designs each year, Zara produces over 20,000. This isn't strategic… it's slavery. As the CEO celebrates his triumph against his competitors, he celebrates the oppression of those toiling away to make ends meet.

We cannot ignore the maltreatment of other human beings. Not when innocent children are exploited. That's right… H&M and Zara are abusing their power. They're abusing the rights of children. In the fashion industry, 170 million children have forgone their only hope of escaping poverty to make clothes for us: their education. This is child labor.

Bithi is one of these children. At age 12, her mother sent her to one of the many Bangladesh garment factories to feed all eight of her family members. To earn her $1.07 for the day, she must make a minimum of 480 pants. She's been stripped of her childhood, education, and freedom. These costs aren't printed on our receipts after purchasing Bithi's underpaid labor.

The never-ending cycle of purchasing clothes then dumping them, purchasing then dumping is calamitous. Our selfishness pressures companies to source cheaper suppliers and to have unrealistic production deadlines. Thus, factories lure children - promising them a means to support their families. Ladies and gentlemen, why do we allow ourselves to be driven by our insatiable desires rather than being driven by our moral obligations?

Delegates, the exploitation of garment workers and children is only the beginning of this nightmare. Fast fashion is a disease - slowly encroaching on the environment and local communities.

Tirupur, India is home to hundreds of factories that dye garments. Years ago, the rivers were flourishing and full of life. Now, they've turned unnatural shades of red as cancer-causing chemicals infiltrate the water. They're considered 'biological dead zones' and we are the culprits. Factories cut corners off environmental safety procedures as we pressure them to produce clothes at unprecedented rates. We pressure them to dump toxic chemicals into rivers used for drinking and farming. In Australia, our water is filled with fluoride to protect our teeth, but in Tirupur, their water is filled with arsenic and mercury that slowly kills them.

Our fellow brothers and sisters are unknowingly allowing noxious chemicals to percolate through their lungs, skin, and stomach. They're dying from cancer and coughing up blood from respiratory diseases at alarming rates. They’re drowning in a river of infection. They're choking in a river of fast fashion.

While Zara and H&M remain uncaring, there is still hope to change today for a better tomorrow. One voice creates a small wave. All of our voices combined create a tsunami - a movement so powerful that H&M and Zara are forced to hear our pleas.

As consumers of fashion, contributors to the industry's epidemic, and as human beings, we're all involved in the monstrosities perpetrated in Bangladesh and India.

Currently, it's impossible to eradicate fast fashion as cheap and trendy clothes will always hold their appeal. But the good news is that every dollar in our pocket is a vote toward sustainability and ethical practices. We hold the power.

Let's jump off the fast fashion treadmill, reduce our shopping habits, and cast our vote toward brands like People Tree and Plastic Freedom. These brands are reinventing the industry by ensuring 100% transparency of their production line and prioritizing environmental safety.

Stand up for Bithi so that she can attend school and escape poverty. Speak out for the Tirupur locals before they contract another disease. Join this movement and implore your governments to put fair trade labels on ethically sourced clothes.

We must teach each other how to shop because our solidarity is a tsunami companies like H&M and Zara can no longer ignore. The clock is ticking for us to take real action.

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Fast Fashion Argumentative Essay. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“Fast Fashion Argumentative Essay.” Edubirdie, 09 Feb. 2024,
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