Dear Richard Hayne of Urban Outfitters,
We really do not need anymore tote bags. Especially that Flower District Tote Bag you make. I promise, we know that it is not really from “Downtown LA” like it says. We pay attention to the fact that your company is fast fashion. This bag was certainly a product of exploitation of labor in other countries, mainly China, Vietnam, and India as mentioned by on URBN’s website (your parent company). The garment making industries in these countries are known to force workers to work extremely long hours, do not pay living wages, and do not maintain safe conditions by any means.
Richard, we do not want to see other disasters like the one at Rana Plaza happen in the future. By participating in the fast fashion industry, especially with the billions of dollars of revenue you have at your disposal, you are directly contributing to the possibility that more horrific and entirely preventable tragedies will occur. Just so that you can continue to make clothes on an extremely unsustainable, ever turning schedule. Most of your clothes end up in the landfill after the trend season is over anyways.
We have had enough of you pretending that everything will be okay if you continue on the path you are on. It certainly won’t. Things need to change on your end. Not just for the garment workers that make your clothes, but for the environment as well.
Speaking of the environment, we can also look at the impact of the fabric you use. The tote bag in question starts out as pieces of conventional cotton. This is significant environmentally because cotton is a crop that uses a large amount of water and pesticides. I am assuming that the cotton used was not organic, since that would be something you would’ve wanted to advertise. I would like you to consider that pesticides used in cotton crops are harmful to human health, sometimes causing brain damage, fetal damage, and even sterility. Such pesticides also lead to soil degradation, and cause eutrophication once they make it to the ocean by way of natural water systems (which they also pollute).
The harmful social and environmental impacts of your company’s practices need to stop. During that process, we NEED more transparency from you. We don’t want to have to guess whether the products in your storefronts are made under horrible conditions. We don’t want to buy cotton that causes harm to farmers and ecosystems around the world. If you don’t give us evidence of ethical sourcing and production, we are going to assume the worst. Sorry, but you haven’t given us much reason to trust you. A vague code of conduct and UK- specific Transparency in Supply Chains Statement (why only in the UK?) is not convincing anyone here.
Now you know where you can improve. Fast fashion and excessive pesticide use for fabrics are not acceptable. You have the means and costumer base to make a significant change, so what is stopping you?