Last week I was reading the New York times and came across an article exposing the terrible environmental practices of a garment company (Surma Garments) in Bangladesh. Of course you can’t believe everything you read, but I consider the New York times a fairly reliable source. Therefore, I decided to choose this as one of my research topics- remember that back in week 19 I started to learn more about environmental issues.
Here’s what I found out: Some of my favorite stores (Penny’s and H&M) buy from Surma Garments. This was very disappointing to learn- especially since H&M has signs all over their store saying how they are going green. Also, I found that polyester, the most widely used manufactured fiber, is made from petroleum. Due to the chemical byproducts of working with polyester, the EPA considers many textile manufacturing facilities to be hazardous waste generators. Yikes! So I’m thinking that I should just avoid clothes made with polyester. But cotton is not safe either- cotton accounts for a quarter of all the pesticides used in the United States. And I won’t even get started on the workers rights issues that plague so many garment manufacturers. Info from this source.
So what to do about this? I wrote to the companies and let them know my feelings. I will continue to shop at thrift stores so I consume fewer new clothing items. Maybe I will look for companies (like Patagonia) that sell products made with organic cotton or other sustainably produced apparel. Lastly, I’ll work to increase consumer awareness about the environmental impacts of the garment industry.