Your consumerism is killing people

Discounted prices and sales attract millions of consumers every holiday season, but at what cost?

Every year during the holiday season, stores begin to see a surge in activity. It was reported that holiday sales average about nineteen percent of annual retail sales over the last five years with some retailers even being higher. Whilst trying to give our loved ones a generous present for the holidays, most fail to consider what those cheap discounted prices really mean. Americans benefit from these low costs that come at the price of the well-being of the workers manufacturing them. 

America has worked hard to improve the safety of manufacturing companies in its own country, but have continuously neglected those overseas. Scott Nova and Liana Foxvog write in The New York Times, “Workers are dying in preventable factory fires because the world’s leading retailers – from Wal-Mart to Gap to H&M – make their clothes in countries where labor laws are not enforced and demand that their contract factories slash production costs to the bone.” As a country we must realize that our perpetual increase in demand for products, coupled with the need for lower prices, has led to the neglect of these workers. These horrific conditions have resulted in countless fires seen across factories.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

As consumers, it is important to reflect on our purchases and look into their source. As a country, changes must be made to the way factories are run and prices of products must be adjusted so that a lower price doesn’t come at the cost of someone’s life.. From small businesses to large companies who mass produce products, all workers should be provided with a safe environment. 

One way you can  improve this issue is to shop sustainably. “Sustainable Purchases,” refers to buying products that have been made from recycled materials that are more environmentally friendly than their competitors. This includes items that are bio-based, energy or water efficient, or offer alternatives to hazardous chemicals. 

If you choose to shop sustainably you will know that you aren’t supporting the maltreatment of workers and that your products have much less negative impact on the environment. However, it’s worth recognizing that the materials in sustainable fashion are more expensive to manufacture and process. As a result, many skip the sustainable choice and default to the mainstream option.

For a New Year’s resolution, consider reflecting on your personal actions and making the choice to shop sustainably and avoid the temptation of fast fashion, for the betterment of factory conditions and to improve the longevity of our environment. 

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