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The impact of fast fashion on garment workers and the environment

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we discuss working conditions and labor rights in the clothing industry. It’s been ten years since 1,134 people died in the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. Low wages, harassment in the workplace, and union busting are still widespread in the industry. What has changed since the deadly tragedy?

We'll also discuss the environmental costs of fast fashion. According to the UN Environment Program, the industry is responsible for about 10 percent of global carbon emissions and nearly 20 percent of wastewater. Part of these emissions come from pumping water to irrigate crops like cotton, oil-based pesticides, machinery for harvesting, and emissions from transport. The industry is responsible for 24 percent of insecticides and 11 percent of pesticides.


Elizabeth Cline, professor of Fashion Policy and Consumerism and Sustainability at Columbia University, and author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and The Conscious Closet

Dana Thomas, contributing editor for British Vogue, host of The Green Dream podcast, and author of Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion

Jonathan Coleman, communications manager for the Garment Worker Center

Web Resources:

The New York Times: A Grim Anniversary for Survivors of the Rana Plaza Disaster

The Guardian: Abuses ‘still rife’: 10 years on from Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza disaster

Eco Watch: Chile’s Atacama Desert: Where Fast Fashion Goes to Die

The Mercury News: Some California ‘sweatshop’ garment workers paid as little as $1.58 an hour, says report

Malihe Razazan is the senior producer of KALW's daily call-in program, Your Call.
Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.