This morning while I was waiting for a bus I noticed this poster in the window of Primark and I screamed internally. I think it’s fair to say that when we think of Primark two things come to mind Fast Fashion and Climate Change. The past few years people awareness and determination to stop climate change has grown and as we have become more aware of how our lifestyles impact our planet many businesses have made incremental changes that do not address the root causes in attempts to placate us and this poster and the single shelf of organic cotton products is Primark’s attempt. One of the biggest issues we must address to tackle climate change is fast fashion as the industry is one of the leading contributors of polluted water, carbon emissions, and landfill. Instead of making changes to their destructive business model Primark are attempting to gaslight their customers by pretending that they are not destroying our planet.

Let’s break down the poster that implies Primark are a good and moral business.

People

At every stage of production Primark treats their workers unfairly and with very little respect. In 2017 Primark made £593 million in their UK stores alone while workers earned between £10 and £33 thousand. Their clothing is so cheap that the only way to do this is to exploit its retail workers as is standard fare for companies who think we deserve the minimum while they make millions from our work.

It of course gets much worse when we look at the production of Primark’s continuously changing stock. Primark like many other corporations do not own the factories in which their products are produced which allows them to ignore any responsibility for workers while demanding costs are kept low. While they claim to check factories of the final stage of production they do not check factories which work at other stages. The pressure Primark and other companies put on these factories to keep costs low in search of higher profits inevitably leads to mistreatment and low pay of workers. Other means of production including machinery and textiles come with a determined price tag that cannot be negotiated the only thing that can be are the wages of workers so it is imperative to keep them as low as possible. This pressure coupled with the lack of checks and supervision has resulted in Primark products being made by slaves and children.

In India where much of the cotton Primark use is produced serious birth defects in farmers children have been linked to the pesticides used to protect cotton. The cotton is also grown in countries that do not have the investment or infrastructure to deal with the amount of water needed for growing without risking droughts and dehydration in countries that already struggle to feed themselves after agriculture has taken their grains.

The speed and low costs of production to constantly supply consumers with clothes slightly different to those sold last month inevitably leads to cut corners and a lack of workers’ rights so no Primark do not care about or respect people.

Planet

Fast Fashion is one of the leading causes of water pollution, run offs from textile dye end up in once clean water minimising what little resources developing countries have and risking droughts even further From beginning to end the production of constant clothing is unsustainable and dangerous it takes 2,000 gallons of water to create one pair of jeans. Jeans that more likely than not will be thrown away within a year along with 60% of clothing produced. We send the equivalent of one rubbish truck full of clothing per second to landfill.

Water is a finite resource that we all depend on to live and companies like Primark are pissing it away in search of profit risking the lives of everyone. The cheap materials Primark use in production means that micro-plastic particles are released into the ocean every time we wash our clothes which contributes to the despicable state of our oceans and the creatures who call it home.

Textile production also results in 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions per year these companies produce products in countries with not just poor working conditions but who also rely on coal for power. While the polyester found in most Primark products is produced from fossil fuels another finite resource that we need to stop using at whim.

Respect

Respect? Don’t make me laugh Primark doesn’t even respect us enough to not boldly lie in their advertisements this poster is the latest attempt of gas lighting by corporations who are destroying our planet and lives for profit. There are things fast fashion companies like Primark can do to help the planet using sustainable materials and slowing down production but of course this will impact the bottom line so all we get are bullshit ad campaigns claiming they are for People, Planet and Respect.

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