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The True Cost (2015)The True Cost (2015)

On April 24, 2013, an eight-story garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed, killing 1130 workers and injuring another 2500.  The disaster became emblematic of the many problems inherent in the "fast fashion" business model of how clothes for first world consumers are made by people in the two-thirds world.  About 40 million people, 85% of them women, work in global garment factories, for wages as low as $10 a month.  Andrew Morgan's film proceeds along three main lines — human exploitation, environmental degradation, and our culture of consumption.  A broad range of actors get to have their say (although all the major retailers declined to comment) — factory workers, managers and owners of the factories, fashion designers, advertising gurus, union activists, and even a former manager at Monsanto.  Not all the news is bad.  Catalysts for change are also featured, like an organic cotton farmer in Texas, the founder of the fair trade pioneer People Tree, and Livia Firth of Eco-Age.  But practically-speaking, when 97% of our clothes are made in sweat shops like the ones featured in this film, it's hard to know what the average consumer can do that will make any meaningful changes.  I watched this film on Netflix Streaming.

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