Unfortunately, the recent factory collapse in Bangladesh is not the first such incident in the garment industry. And while it does seem to be getting more international attention from media and consumers alike, as well as perhaps a bit more response than usual from brands involved, will it be enough to actually create some change?
As Lucy Siegle points out in this all-encompassing article for The Guardian, the window is closing. Unidentified workers have been buried in mass graves, factories are back open, and the country's minster of finance has already started to brush things under the rug (though there are winds of some kind of change in government policy). In a world of constant news, we forget all too easily, but will outrage last long enough to force brands to rethink things this time around?
Well, as Siegle points out, that has to start with the buyer. Brands, while not without fault by any means, are also responding to demand like any other business. While people look for cheap clothing over quality, prioritize fast fashion over trendsetting designers, and consume clothing in startling amounts, those brands can't realistically be expected to change (even if they should). At a policy level, both lax regulations in countries with large manufacturing industries as well as anti-trust laws are part of the reason brands can often brush these tragedies off their shoulders and side-step any real responsibility.
Brands are businesses, but you, the consumer, are a person. If you think this tragedy will stick in your mind, read this article in full, start educating yourself, and pass the information around to your friends. Participate and help spread the word about initiatives like the Green Carpet Challenge, the Clean Clothes Campaign, or Labour Behind The Label. And always keep in mind the value of carefully, ethically made goods when you shop. As the saying goes, money talks!