I have always promoted making decisions that are healthy for ourselves and the environment. It is also important to think about how our actions affect other people. I don’t think that we really believe that we are as powerful as we really are. Although we may not be in the government or making the decisions in the big corporations, we have more power than we think.
We can make choices that effect the planet and the people that live on it by what we spend our money on.
I was blind to the fact that one of my absolute favorite retailers that I’ve always admired uses sweatshops. In fact a few that I enjoy window shopping and shopping at use sweatshops such as Zara, Free People, Anthropologie, and Target. I’m honestly beginning to believe that most products from large corporations use sweatshops. If it is unbelievably priced and absolutely fashionable such as many of the products from Forever21, then it is probably a product of child labor, human trafficking, and sweatshops. You would be better off purchasing something from a vintage or thrift store than supporting such companies.
Although I’ve heard of sweatshops and have bought products that were sweatshop free, I’ve never decided to boycott the big brands until today.
“Sweatshop (or sweat factory) is a negatively connoted term for any working environment considered to be unacceptably difficult or dangerous. Sweatshop workers often work long hours for very low pay, regardless of laws mandating overtime pay or a minimum wage. Child labour laws may be violated. Sweatshops may have hazardous materials and situations. Employees may be subject to employer abuse without an easy way, if any way, to protect themselves.” Source
With all of the wonderful Etsy designers and other small business that provide beautiful and fashionable clothing and other items, why are we unconsciously shopping. Why have I even done it in the past? It is very easy to do until you put a face and story to what sweatshops look like.
I searched “sweatshops” on YouTube and found a video that really woke me up. The reality that this young 11-year-old girl faces working in such a horrific place brought me to tears. I think this video says it all.
You can see more from the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights here.
Companies That Use Sweatshops:
Abercrombie and Fitch
The North Face
There are probably a gazillion more, but I’ve purchased from almost all of these brands before, if not worked with a few or done a commercial or two. I’ve seen people comment and even make videos stating that sweatshops are good for the people who work there because they desperately need jobs and other nonsense. Having a job and being treated like a slave are two different things, yet there really isn’t much distinction when it comes to sweatshops.
“Living wages and reasonable working hours would not threaten companies’ overall profitability. No one should have to work 17-hour days just so Americans can save a few dollars on clothes… Sweatshop workers are trapped in a cycle of exploitation that rarely improves their economic situation.” Read more from Green America here.
I will most likely spend the next month or so removing as many images and other content from Minimalist Beauty that are from any company that uses inhumane working conditions. I will also be providing a page of sweatshop free, fair trade, and organic retailers.
In the meantime what are your thoughts on this?
5th Edition: Guide to Ending Sweatshops by Green America
Update: Compassionate Clothing Brands List
(Image by Dawn Michelle/Video by Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights)