Is it really worth it? True Cost Documentary Review

By Bailee O'Connell - Intern @TheChayahMovement

Despite the narrator beginning with, "this is a story about clothes," the True Cost documentary is so much more than that.

In a span of an hour and a half, the documentary compares and contrasts the many effects that come with the production process' of fast fashion industries. The camera's point of view jumps from glamorous audiences supporting several European Fashion Weeks to Indian slums where the garments strutting down these catwalks are made.

When our parents were our age, many couldn’t easily afford to buy a handful of shirts on one shopping trip. Could you imagine passing down an H&M dress to your great granddaughter? You’d be lucky if it lasted beyond a simple season.

Soon, fast fashion began taking over and filling up our closets quite quickly.

The more well-known companies of today measure success by the final pieces on the runway or on the racks. It is far too likely these businesses don’t think about the mothers who are forced to live away from their toddlers in order to create those fast fashion items on wages that are too low to live on.

Garments aren't magically created by the flick of a hand, there are real people with real lives who are conducting the process of the things we wear. Away from the rest of the world, huge companies are getting away with murder. Many cases involve factory fires, collapsed buildings and diseases or chemicals from unsafe environments have engaged in the killing of factory workers. Especially the chemicals, which are causing workers to suffer from skin cancer as well as digestive and liver issues. All of these health problems link directly to the harsh chemicals found in those factories. A major point that was mentioned was the statistic of how much of the clothes we wear are actually created in the U.S. In the 1960's the U.S. was producing 95% of our clothes, now it appears we only create three percent.

The documentary switches from the viewpoint of how our clothes are made and express the materials that go into these items. It encourages the viewer to try and focus on the living things that breathe life into garments.

So many companies are polluting the land and adding toxicity to the soil. Crops and people are affected and the earth is being abused. It is estimated that one cotton farmer commits suicide every 30 minutes. Although, this disruption isn't only having an impact on third world countries. Ads all throughout the Western World tie happiness to the act of consumption, though many citizens seem to be much more depressed then what is actually presented.

Back in the day, getting a new item of clothing was something special. One would eye an item and work as hard as they could to purchase it. The process of dreaming about it so often to them physically owning the piece out of pure hard work was a more precious moment compared to how it is today. Now, you can purchase various and affordable pretty dresses with one click online.

Once the mood that came from your first glance at an item disappears, it becomes overrated and you soon find yourself looking for something new. We are constantly consuming and adding without thinking of the evil consequences. Only 10 percent of donated clothes get recycled or up-cycled, and thrift stores can’t sell a lot of the garments that come in, so they end up in a disastrous landfill.

It might surprise you, but because it takes 200 years to break down a simple textile, the clothes end up sitting in those landfills releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere for decades.

The True Cost documentary is filled with many narratives and interviews with several designers and factory workers. Watching the documentary, you are instantly reminded that cheap fashion might be light on the wallet, but seriously harmful to humanity. This film is available on Netflix.

Photo by on Unsplash

Sara LeHoullier