Fashion brands can sell their clothes at competitive prices by outsourcing manufacturing to developing nations that lack adequate labour laws and regulations to protect workers. Garment workers face hazardous working conditions and earn unlivable wages while fast fashion companies make massive profits. Production is labor-intensive and most workers in this industry are female. Women, particularly young ones, who work long hours under high-risk working conditions and in unsafe buildings in Bangladesh face long hours of labor, dangerous working environments and potentially lethal risks – in 2013, for instance, one textile factory collapsed killing over 1,134 workers – as well as verbal and physical abuse, denied breaks, staying overtime work without pay and being fired by managers for failing to meet quotas set forth.
Garment manufacturers depend heavily on cotton to craft clothing, yet its cultivation requires vast quantities of pesticides that pose significant health risks to workers and their families alike. Cotton’s toxic chemicals may cause miscarriages and cancer; additionally, synthetic fabrics like polyester and spandex tend not to be environmentally-friendly by breaking down into micro plastic fibres in water bodies contaminating its ecosystems with micro plastic fibers that enter through its fibres into our oceans, leading to water contamination.
Factory locations that produce large volumes of apparel for fast fashion retailers often place workers under subpar working conditions and environmental standards, leading to subpar working conditions such as unsafe buildings and dangerous machines, poor working conditions and lengthy hours – often 14-16 per day, seven days a week totalling 96 hours each week for garment workers – in low-income countries that don’t comply with living wage standards and often cannot afford basic needs like food, housing and healthcare.
Textile dyeing processes are an enormous source of pollution, with waste water discharge from factories contaminating rivers and lakes as it flows off into rivers or lakes, harming communities who depend on these waters for survival. Furthermore, compliance to environmental standards often falls on factories alone to fulfill.
Labor Behind the Label reports that, despite producing massive volumes of apparel, most workers in the garment industry are paid below living wages due to pressure for faster production; sales and profit margins take priority over human rights and safety considerations.
To do this, factories work at an excruciatingly fast rate, forcing their employees to work until 2AM multiple times every day without receiving overtime pay. Furthermore, garment workers face various occupational hazards including excess heat exposure, exposure to chemicals and synthetic air particulates, inhalation of cotton dust fibres and infections recurrences – effects which may be reduced through higher production standards such as using eco-friendly materials such as linen hemp and wild silk.