We Need More Transparency

We Need More Transparency

Halina Dreger

As American consumers, we have a plethora of options to choose from no matter what we are buying, and plenty to consider when making those choices. When purchasing clothing, decisions often come down to style, fit and price; when buying food, we tend to look at calories, nutrition and taste.

But what if the fashion and food industries had to tell us more about production? What if clothing tags told us the names of the factories in which they were manufactured, if we had to choose between a cheap top made in sweat shop by children and a more costly shirt made by adults earning a living wage? What if nutrition labels told us the names of the farms at which all ingredients were derived? What if we had to sit in front of the refrigerators at the grocery store while we wondered if it was okay to buy the last carton of milk, even though the cows that produced it were slaughtered after they stopped producing product?

These are difficult decisions, but they are important ones and ones that we should be allowed to make but often cannot. Sure, some digging can inform us on the conditions of the farms in which our food was produced, but a bolder label at the ready with all of this information (including details on the conditions of workers and animals) will make consumers more conscious of these issues.

The same is true of the fashion industry.

“Transparency is essential in the fashion industry,” agrees Lakewood High School senior Grace Kraidich. “We as consumers have a right to be able to ask the question, ‘Who made my clothes?’ and get a clear and truthful answer in return.”

Of course, instituting certain changes would be nearly impossible–there is no way that a clothing company is going to willingly state on their labels that their items are produced in sweatshops with child laborers that only get paid 15 cents and hour, and there would be much opposition to allowing the government to regulate this sort of thing. Transparency in the fashion industry is on the rise according to Fashion Revolution, but (like with food products) sometimes extensive research must be done to learn about the manufacturing process of our favorite brands; especially in today’s fast-paced, impatient society, we must advocate for a faster method of gathering this information to make informed decisions about what we buy.

Overall, more transparency in the food and fashion industries will help us as consumers make more informed decisions about what we buy, making us more aware of how our choices impact the environment and fellow humans.