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On April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza, a garment factory in Bangladesh, collapsed killing 1,127 people. The building collapsed due to the absence of government and corporate safety standards in the workplace. Despite being sent home due to safety issues, pointed out by engineers, the employees wages’ were threatened if they didn’t return to work the following day.
A major issue contributing to the poor working conditions in Bangladesh and other countries with low GDP is consumer practices in wealthier countries. In response to the continually growing consumer demand for quality clothing at a low price, major corporations search for cost effective means of production. This leads to corporate outsourcing that exploits workers through corrupt business practice and minimal regulations.
While the media has given widespread attention to the working conditions in Bangladesh’s clothing factories following Rana Plaza’s collapse, the power to create change remains in the hands of consumers. A noticeable trend throughout many Western countries is the feeling that ‘just one person’ is unable to create any real change through their purchases. Even though many consumers understand that much of their clothing is produced in a reprehensible manner, the feeling of powerlessness to create change can become a way to excuse our purchases. It is time to recognize that when choosing to buy ethically produced products we, as individuals, can make a difference.
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