Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The tanning industry in Bangladesh (a Website of the Month recommendation)

My friend Amy Johansson is an extremely talented young lady. She started out as a fashion designer, but has lately moved into more of a management role as a 'product developer' with the Swedish clothing chain H&M. For the past few years, she's been based with one of their subsidiary companies in Bangladesh, where they source a lot of their fabrics. During this time, she has been applying her visual flair more and more to her passion for photography - a hobby that has evolved into a second career. She has some marvellous pictures on her website.

Her most recent project, in collaboration with a journalist friend, Gabrielle J├Ânsson, has been a photo-essay called 'Lethal Leather - A Journey Through The Leather Industry In Bangladesh'. She has made it available as a slideshow on her site.

As Amy and Gabrielle say in their press notice about this:

The leather industry is one of the world’s most harmful, posing great risks to human health and the environment. Leather is treated with a number of dangerous chemicals to prevent it from decomposing. In Bangladesh, leather production takes place in the heart of the capital Dhaka, home to 12 million people. Nearly two hundred tanneries across the city manufacture products to sell to international fashion labels. It is rare for workers to wear protective clothing at these highly toxic production plants, which are dotted between residential housing. 150 tonnes of industrial waste are produced here every day, much of which is channelled into the city’s rivers.

That is certainly a disturbing thought. China's record on environmental pollution is pretty atrocious too, but at least they don't usually site hazardous industries like this right in the heart of cities.

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