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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Kayla Reopelle at 1:26AM
Cotton Road premieres tomorrow at 2:10pm at Cinemapolis

Blog posting by Kayla Reopelle, Documentary Studies and Production '14, FLEFF Blogger, Roy, WA


“Once we’re consumers, we are all complicit in everything that I show.


“This film matters to a young person because we all buy clothing,” director Laura Kissel said.


Cotton Road illustrates one example of the global industrial system of consumption which gets taken for granted. 


Daily encounters such as flipping a light switch, eating packaged food, using cell phones don’t provoke questions into the social and environmental cost of these services.


“Clothing is just one example among many that we could use for how far removed we have gotten as consumers from the production of all of this stuff that we consume and use every day.”


Discussion regarding these issues reemerges after sweatshop scandals such as the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangledesh of 2013. Textile labor, production, and safety standards come into question for a moment, but fade away after the shock has passed.


“Your label says MADE IN GUATAMALA, MADE IN HONDURAS, MADE IN CHINA, but what does that really mean?”


Cotton Road is your opportunity to look behind the label, to think about what’s missing from the label, Kissel said. 


“There are other human beings who are making our stuff. Who are they? Where are they? What kind of lives do they live?” 


Cotton Road’s action and engagement campaign director, Jessica Bichler, also an Ithaca College Alum, began to think about her clothing consumption differently after she started working with the film. 


“Cotton Road has inspired me to change my habits by causing me to think about the long term picture of what happens, not just to my clothes, but to everything that I buy. I look for quality that will last and/or minimal environmental impact in production, care and disposal,” Bichler said.


To put these ideas into practice, Bichler purchased very few pieces of clothing in the last two years. When she does buy something new, she researches the brand’s practices. 


“I try to get things as locally sourced and made as possible and I try to find things that seem like they will hold up over time. If I've only worn something for part of the day and it stayed clean I'll hang it out to air and wear it again and skip the drier when I do wash it,” Bichler said.


One action Bichler and Kissel suggested students could take would be to participate in Fashion Revolution Day on April 24 by taking a picture of themselves wearing their clothes #inside out, and ask ‘Who made your clothes?’


“If we as US consumers are going to take advantage of political and economical conditions in countries that don't offer the same level of labor and social protections as we do, then I think we owe it to the people of those countries to be their social security when our demands cause a disaster whose repercussions will be felt for many, many years. 


“If we all looked at the positive and negative effects of our actions and took responsibility for our role I the bigger picture, we really could reduce hardship and suffering around the world. 


“But, it takes some vigilance and the kinder choice isn't always the easier or cheaper of your options,” Bichler said.


To get the conversation going about who made your clothes, wear an article of clothing inside out to the world premiere screening of Cotton Road Saturday April 5 at 2:10pm, with filmmaker Laura Kissel, at Cinemapolis!

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