Sometimes fashion comes at too high a price. If you knew your jeans had cost someone their life, would you choose a different fashion statement?
It has come to the surface that “distressed jeans” are causing exactly that kind of harm to factory workers around the world. The look of pre-faded jeans is often achieved through a sandblasting technique that has harmful effects on the lungs of those involved in the process. The condition that ensues, called Silicosis, causes “shortness of breath, coughing, weakness, and weight loss. It’s incurable –and in its acute form, fatal,” writes a BBC report about the problem. In Turkey, where the issue was first discovered in 2004, there are 46 documented deaths and 12,000 known cases of Silicosis tied to denim production, but doctors suspect the actual numbers are much higher. While sandblasting is now banned in Turkey, it appears the production technique has simply expanded in other locations. There is currently lobbying going on in Europe for denim companies to ban sand-blasting in their factories or stop producing distressed jeans all together, as well as a push to have denim sandblasting added to the World Health Organization and International Labor Organization’s list of hazardous jobs.
Disturbed? Take action by choosing not to purchase “distressed” jeans unless you can verify that the company is producing them through a different technique. If you see distressed jeans being sold in a favorite store, consider writing the company requesting that they ban sandblasting in their factories or get up a petition in your local community to add strength to your voice.
Read more in the BBC’s excellent report, “Sandblasted Jeans: Should We Give Up Distressed Denim?”
Thanks to my friend Krista for bringing this to my attention. No one’s justice journey is as effective alone.