As a history teacher, I know very well that it unfortunately takes a tragedy to cause change. The building collapse in Bangladesh immediately brought to mind the 1911 Triangle Waist Company factory fire in New York. It was a time in the U.S. when businesses were not regulated heavily, so buildings did not always feature the highest safety provisions possible. Cornell University has a great web exhibit, including this map of the 9th floor that will make your skin tingle and blood boil. The fire spurred protests for more rights and safer conditions for workers. We have increased building safety because of this and other tragedies in our past.
What will the events in Bangladesh bring? Hopefully, more people will start holding companies accountable for ensuring that safety regulations are being implemented in their factories. From what I have read in the article, It's Not Easy to Identify ‘Ethical Clothing’, to do so is "costly and time-consuming". For me, this tragedy is a push to branch out and find companies that are especially mindful of the rights and safety of others. But this may be a difficult task, as the aforementioned article states:
"Few companies sell clothing that’s “ethically made,” or marketed as being made in factories that maintain safe working conditions. In fact, such clothes make up a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the overall $3 trillion global fashion industry."
Please share any resources or thoughts on the topics of Bangladesh or ethics in the comments.