How Fast Fashion Is Devastating the Environment and Taking Lives in India

The horrifying effects of an industry that wants cheap goods and fair labor in equal measure.

Not Available Lead
Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

Not Available Lead

Newsweek's latest cover story focuses on how the fast fashion industry is destroying the local environment in India. Many people, including John Oliver, have come out against the effects fast fashion is having on the globe and its workforce, however India was supposed to be different, according to Newsweek.  

Fast fashion brands like Uniqlo, Zara, Wal-Mart, H&M, and the Gap flocked to the Indian city Tirupur after consumers pressured them to create more humane work environments than the ones that made headlines in places like Bangladesh and Cambodia. The U.S. government even donated $25 million to the local government to help jumpstart the clothing industry there and the value of the goods India has donated since them has skyrocketed from $571 million to $1.25 billion. 

However, the plan has backfired because consumers still demand the low prices they have become accustomed to. Now, the same corruption is taking place in Tirupur. Dyes used in the factories are polluting rivers that once pumped clean water through the region which has completely ruined the farming industry. Farmers report that their produce doesn't even make it off the vine before rotting away due to the chemicals. And even though courts ruled that the factories must reduce their chemical discharge to zero, the plants have found ways around this. Factories have been appealing the ruling ever since it was made, continuing operations in the meantime, while others will operate for a couple months at a time without approval before getting shut down and inevitably popping up somewhere else, others still will bribe local officials.

One such horror story involves two factory inspectors who took $3000 in exchange for approving a factory. A wall in the plant ended up collapsing and drowning 10 workers in toxic sludge. 

Many of the companies were non-responsive when questioned about their practices in India, others gave vague answers about working in compliance with the standards.

Read the whole piece on the effect fast fashion has on the environment here.

Latest in Style