April 24, marked the second anniversary of the terribly sad and uncivil catastrophe at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh.
An unthinkable tragedy–1,134 people died and more than 2,500 were severely injured when the poorly built and managed Rana Plaza factory collapsed into rubble. Although this disaster was horrible in every way, it did bring the unjust effects of the fashion supply chain onto the global stage, causing labor rights and factory safety to come under further scrutiny. It also led to an increase in support of Fair Trade and sustainable fashion labels to grow.
Several lower-end, fast fashion chains outsourced their production to the Rana Plaza factory, including Benetton, Primark, H&M, Walmart and Mango. Some companies were quick to pay up for the damages and loss caused by the collapse, but several have yet to pay their agreed inputs, even two years on. Not to mention, the accord that was signed by several of these companies outlines rules for better factory safety compliance and auditing, which has still not been taken into account by several brands.
As of March 24, 2015 only $21.5 million has been paid into the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund by buyers, the Bangladeshi government, and private donors. The money in this fund is used solely to make payments to Rana Plaza victims and their families, who so far have only received a maximum of 70 percent what they are owed. This is largely due to the fact that the fashion brands involved have failed to pay the $9 million remaining to deliver fair compensation to the individuals with eligible claims.
Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign said in a statement: “That we have been unable to secure a mere $30 million from a group of brands that collectively earn tens of billions of dollars profit each year is an outrage – this anger is clearly shared by consumers here in Europe – only weeks ago over a million of them signed a petition calling on Benetton in just a few days. If brands and retailers really want to show to workers and consumers alike that the industry has changed since Rana Plaza, they need to prove it by paying up now, without any further delay. The countdown starts now.”
Luckily, there are other brands that have taken advantage of this new arena for sustainable fashion, such as Vavavida, whose handmade jewelry is pictured above. Brands like Vavavida are invested in full circle economics and Fair Trade schemes, supporting artisan cooperatives and female entrepreneurs in order to create sustainable fashion systems. Not only do they support and work with non-profits that are helping to build more feasible and effective infrastructures in both the U.S. and third world countries, Vavavida also educates its consumers about issues surrounding the fashion industry.
So in the name of the victims and consequences of the Rana Plaza tragedy, please take a moment today to become more conscious of your actions and decisions as a consumer of fashion.
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