I smoke and I drink. And, yes, I like fattening no-good junk food. Bad things, right? Well, my argument about these has mostly been that my actions harm me much more than others.

I am not making an excuse here, there are numerous scientific studies that suggest that the risks attributed to passive smoking are more ideological than scientific. Adding to that, I also drive. A public conveyance person for the longest time, I now have a car and I like to drive — mostly for the independence and security it provides me. But that doesn’t do away the fact that I am adding to pollution, which hurts not just me, but others too.

But there are some things even more sinister that I can be accused of — for example, the death of 1,000 garment workers in Bangladesh. I seem to be a collation of contradictions. In general, I am not much of a shopper, but I love pretty things just as much as the next person. I mostly shop from fair-price shops, where I know the artists (yes, they are artists for the lovely things they make) get a fair deal. But sometimes I also give in to vanity and temptation and pick those over-priced garments because they “look good” on me. (I am of the firm opinion that the mirrors in these high-end shops are rigged to make us look prettier, slimmer, taller, better, so that we buy, buy and buy.) I, like everyone else, fall into this trap of trying to be “in”….always.

In effect, we buy far too many things, lining the silken pockets of millionaires. Very little of the money we spend helps the ones who made the clothes we wear. It is the unfailing game of the consumerism born in the West, which has since then migrated all over the world. Advertising driven brain-washing that always tells us — you need that new phone, even if the current one is working perfectly well.

You need that red dress, because it is the new pink. It’s faux leather that you need this winter. Empire waist-line, not A-line, is the new in-thing. Boot-cuts are out-dated, skinny is the new cool. Feeding our desire to look good, look “in”, retailers are changing the rules of fashion every few months. We shell out the money, but who pays for our greed, our vanity? Thousands of workers in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and other countries, who cannot afford the clothes we buy and throw, do.

A nonchalant visit to any of the many fashion brand stores tells me that on an average, 8 out of the ten clothes I pick up cost more than Rs 1,750 (that is a very very conservative estimate). The average worker in the factory which collapsed in Bangladesh recently is paid about Rs 1,900 a month. Fair price? The same couldn't be true if the retailers got the clothes made in their own countries where the labour laws are stricter. Where people have ‘rights’. I am an accomplice to the crime that took place in Bangladesh, killing over a thousand. And that, my friend, is far worse than the last cigarette I smoked.