Sales, clearance, buy one get one, who doesn’t love a good deal? The truth is that everyone loves a good bargain. But at what cost? I don’t mean what % of a discount either.
You might be scratching your head wondering, “What is she talking about now?”.
And as confused as you might be, I want to let you know that many people have no idea what I’m talking about. In fact, it hasn’t been until recent years that I understood what this meant.
It’s a shocking concept to think that there are actually human beings treated as caged animals to make clothing for a “discounted low price”. What’s even more shocking is that there are illegal factories that “employ” children to make thousands and thousands of identical garments to sell to the “first world”.
I say “employ” in quotations due to the description of the word in its context. As appalling as it is to think that there are children working in often times hazardous conditions, it’s even more troubling to think that these kids often are paid little to nothing (Some factories pay the equivalent of $3 a day), for their long strenuous hours of anywhere from 10-16 hours a day.
I want you to take a second to think about what that really means. Take a moment to absorb what this would mean to an eight year old child, to your child, or even to you. It means little to no opportunity to receive an education, perhaps illiteracy, a never-ending life of seeing the same seam over and over and over…..
No field trips, no science projects, no college scholarships, and no hope for a better future.
There are currently 168 MILLION children trapped in this lifestyle.**
Is this how any human should live? Are their dreams any less important than ours? Does any child actually desire to exist this way?
When I first heard that these types of places existed, I was completely crushed. And the more research I did, the more I found. Cases and cases of inhumane treatment in these so-called “workplaces”.
Employees beaten for not “correctly” sewing a cheap garment
Children being arrested and beaten for taking “too many breaks”
Women forced to take contraceptives to hide sexual abuse
Termination if the woman was pregnant because they were denied maternity leave
Hard working parents who couldn’t afford to feed their families
Factory workers committing suicide to “escape” the unmanageable stress. ***
How is ANY of this ok???
It made me feel sick…
I was even more disgusted when I realized that the clothes that I owned were made in these factories… By people… by humans… by someone with a name…
Maybe my seamstress was 27… just like me… maybe when she was a kid she had dreams to become a teacher… aspirations to go to college… visions of starting her own business
instead, she found herself chained to a destiny of cutting the same piece of cloth, day after day… at 27 not even able to read the very labels on my clothes…
machine wash cold
tumble dry low
do not iron
All of the care instructions… but not one word of humanity.
It’s heartbreaking to think that we can know how to care for our clothes yet these factories have no concept of how a human being should be treated.
I spent hours and hours researching article after article story after story. But how could I make a difference? It seemed the more investigating I did, the more I found that the stores that I frequently shopped at were guilty of turning a blind eye to and essentially allowing sweatshop labor.
If you’ve been able to read this far, you are probably feeling that same sick feeling in your stomach that I felt the first time I was jolted with this shocking reality.
You may also be reading the articles that I read and looking through your closet wondering if anything you own is actually “safe”.
And if you’re anything like me, you may want to do everything and anything you can to never buy these items again.
But Joy, where am I supposed to buy clothes?
Not everyone is cut out to join a nudist colony in the Himalayas, find inner peace, escape from the evil of mankind, and sing Kumbaya with mountain goats. If this is something you’ve always dreamed of, I’m definitely not stopping you. But I think it would be safe to say that most of us are currently using Wi-Fi and may want to keep living in the 21st century.
And before you start packing your hookah and tambourine, I want to let you know that there ARE options.
I know, I was just as relieved as you are when I heard this.
There are amazing clothing companies that are making a difference and are 100% socially responsible for everything they sell. However, you will most likely not find these guys tucked away in your shopping malls. While there are websites like https://rankabrand.org where you can check on the ratings of your favorite clothing brands, there are often places that these companies fall short due to mass production.
Here are a few companies who are committed to making quality fashion while remaining ethical.
Threading Water‘s goal is to provide clean water to as many people as possible. All over the world, people are living without access to clean water. With the purchase of each shirt, you are able to provide an entire year of clean water to someone in need. Threading Water partners with Lifewater who builds clean water wells for people who wouldn’t have access to safe water otherwise. Threading Water donates to Lifewater who then uses the funds to build the water wells. They have men’s and women’s options in multiple sizes. Be sure to also subscribe their news letter for discounts and updates. I just ordered my shirt and CANNOT wait until it gets here!!!
Just AK *GIVEAWAY ALERT*
Just AK is part of the ethical fashion movement to bring about an end to fast fashion. Their mission is to be an affordable streetwear option. The designs are based upon political, social and economic topics that aren’t well-known, to make a statement and create awareness. Just AK clothing allows you to look good, guilt free!
DON’T MISS THIS!!!!∇∇∇
To my friends in the UK,
I am so thankful to have friends from around the world that read my blog. I will be giving away one T-shirt from Just AK! Here’s how you can win:
Must currently reside and have a mailing address in the UK.
Follow me on instagram @joydaehn and my friends @just_ak
Comment on the contest photo on my instagram with the hashtag #ethicalfashion and a winner will be selected on Monday, June 5 at 1pm CST/ 7pm UTC. Be sure to tag your friends so they don’t miss out! The winner will be able to select their favorite design.
Krochet Kids is an incredible company that is empowering the women of Northern Uganda and Peru with the assets, skills, and knowledge to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. They provide mentorship to help each lady plan a unique and sustainable career path for the future. Each item of clothing is signed by the women that make the clothes.
You can also write them a “Thank you” note to thank them for their hard work. They have an amazing sense of style in men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing. I absolutely love my shirt from them, and am very excited for their newest designs.
I know I’m doing the right thing by shopping smarter, but how do I make a global change?
If your making changes to the way you purchase items, you are already making a positive difference. It’s a hard concept to wrap our brains around when it comes to these types of cruelty. Although there are some employees that are working hard, earning minimum wage, and still in poverty, these types of cases are few and far between. While we would hope to ease our minds to believe that people would be treated fairly, slavery, abuse, and illegal treatment are the harsh realities that millions of people are facing daily.
Hold businesses responsible
Although larger fast fashion businesses use third-party factories for whole sale, there should be no reason that they continue a partnership with these factories, giving the labor conditions of the employees. This would certainly mean that the fashion department will need to invest more funds into more frequent inspections, partnership termination for illegal activity, and possibly an onsite staff member to hold factories accountable for their behavior. Seeing that the factories also make their profit by partnerships, this would be a “threat” to their business if integrity was a requirement. Can you imagine if big names such as Old Navy, Forever21, GAP, and the hundreds of other brands made this a priority? The lives of millions would be changed!
You have to care
It’s not enough that we just talk about global change, we have to be a part of it. There are fantastic organizations such as, Changemakers, that are making a difference in lives of factory workers around the globe. Their #whomademyclothes campaign has had a powerful impact on holding the fashion industry accountable.
As always, thank you for reading my post. A special thanks to Threading Water, Just AK, and Krochet Kids for partnering with me on this post. I am also thankful for your commitment to making the world a better place. Having a global impact will take more than just a few people. It will take all of us doing our part to help those who are suffering. My hope is that you have been moved with compassion to be the positive change.
** https://youtu.be/FQhNv1MAETw (child labor ABC’s)
https://youtu.be/FQhNv1MAETw employees beaten
https://youtu.be/HV-59-tfp5s Modern day slavery Sweatshop investigation