Ethem Ozguven is one of our volunteers from Turkey. He has made a film about the dangers of sandblasting, which is a technique used to distress jeans. This technique causes long term damage to the body, and has also been proven to be lethal. Ethem and David discuss the issue and how it is connected to multinational corporations.
Denim – something that was developed for its durability, and longevity when used as clothing for hard labour has emerged as a hot fashion item in the past decade, with fashion designers implementing new innovative technologies to create new looks and to set trends. I’m sure most of us have at least three pairs in our wardrobe!
What is shocking is the technology that is still used in some parts of the world to create these distressed looks. One technology we want to look at particularly is sand blasting. This technique is basically sand that is blasted at a very high speed out of a hose (held and controlled by a human being), which causes the denim to distress. Most countries have laws banning this practice, as it has been linked to silicosis, which is a form of lung disease. However, countries who are seeking foreign investments may lower their labour regulations in order to make their communities more appealing. As in the film The Corporation, the classic example of this is sweatshops – where countries (usually developing countries) are pressured by multinational corporations to lower their labour standards in order to invite corporations to come in and set up factories to create jobs.
Harmful practices like sandblasting are loosely regulated by countries… Perhaps to not create a problem for the corporations who are doing the manufacturing, in a fear that if regulations (around sandblasting for example) were higher, then the corporation would leave and go somewhere else, leaving many people without jobs.
This is of course a huge problem, as corporations shouldn’t be able to have the power to essentially dictate labour regulations and hijack the economies of developing countries by pressuring them to lower their labour standards. Also, as Ethem’s documentary shows, governments need to be held accountable to the labour laws that they put in place. Turkey does in fact have regulations in place around sandblasting, and activists are working hard to pressure the government to monitor corporations.
As suggested in The Corporation, we need to regulate corporations, and ensure that those people that are accountable to us (i.e. our governments) uphold these regulations!
To find out more about sandblasting, watch Ethem’s documentary below:
To find out more about Ethem's film work, click here.