This is possibly one of my favorite action-oriented articles I've read and was the inspiration for the Buy 5 Initiative. It lists 6 distinct ways for you to get involved and change the dynamics of sweatshop labor.
You can read all 6 points in the article by clicking the photo below but these are my comments...
1. Reduce and Reuse
The article suggest buying less clothing overall, purchase high quality long lasting items or to opt for secondhand clothing.
I have questions about the second hand. Here's my torment... I get that it is environmentally responsible to purchase used. But it is really Ethically responsible? At what point does the social price no longer apply?
If something is made with toxins in a sweat shop and someone buys it, it supports that business. And then they turn around a resell it, it still gives that item value, encouraging others to purchase the brand new.
Like fur...at what point is the vintage fur acceptable to PETA? Never right? So why is second hand any more viable an option if the end goal is changing the industry.
Eco-Friendy...YES. Ethically responsible? Not sure
2. Buy Fair Trade
Currently, there is no US Fair Trade label for clothing. Which brings us to...
3. Beyond "Made in the USA"
This rocked my foundation. The article lists that looking for a UNITE label means that the garment was made here by workers who are in a Union for workers rights.
Seems like an extra step that I was going to bypass until I read this "The union label is a much better indicator of fair labor conditions than the “Made in the USA” label is. First, explains Trina Tocco of the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF), there are many illegal sweatshops operating within the US and in US territories; also, it’s likely that a non-union “US-made” garment was produced overseas and only had the finishing touches, like buttons or embroidery, applied in the US."
So just because it says Made in the USA doesn't mean that it's Ethical or actually made in the US. It's like Pandora's box
4. Check the Source + 5. Do A Little Digging
Links to Green America's National Green Pages and their Responsible Shopper Website are included here.
"“It’s hard to find companies producing completely responsible garments,” explains Tocco, “because there are so many stages in the supply chain: gathering raw material, spinning it into cloth, dyeing the cloth, and cutting and sewing the garments. You could have a union-made garment made of cotton picked by a child laborer.”
Overwhelming really. So start by avoiding the worse of the worse and go from there...
6. Change the System
Let companies know you're concerned about their practices and of course - commit to buying five responsible clothing items this year...
Click the photo below to read the full article.
Any one of the six action items above would be amazing but if you did ONE thing it would be...
COMMIT TO PURCHASING FIVE ITEMS THIS YEAR THAT ARE ETHICALLY RESPONSIBLE. Need support? Join me on my own personal journey in the Closet for Change FB group HERE
This article gives some great talking points and looks at some of the issues in the fashion industry in general. Please note this is less about Ivanka Trump than it is about manufacturing as a whole...
1. "Like many U.S.-based apparel companies, the Trump brand signs deals with suppliers, which, in turn, contract manufacturing work to factories around the world." -In other words, unless the company, like many of the ones listed in this article, really pays attention to the entire manufacturing process, it's likely that the company hired to produce is actually outsourcing the jobs to others to produce even cheaper...making provenance that much harder to track.
2a. "The company had not yet matched the policies of other labels because it was newer and smaller, she added, but is now focusing on what more it can do." It would seem that the smaller the company, the EASIER it would be to monitor the production, the less likely the orders would be scattered across multiple producers and could in fact be brought together under one set of guidelines.
2b. Which is why "Many smaller brands turn to industry-backed groups, such as the Fair Labor Association or the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, to help address factory conditions and worker treatment." Seems pretty simple to me.
3a. On making clothing in the USA - “The workers no longer exist here or only in very small, small capacity; the machinery in many instances does not exist here,” Klem said. “It is a very complex problem.” I agree - I'll post more on this later, but mostly this is because of...
3b. "Industry experts say about 97 percent of all clothing and shoes purchased in the United States is imported from countries where wages are lower and products can be made more cheaply." Now, I know we have people in this group from around the world, but I imagine this is the case in many areas, not just the USA.
Which is of course why the provenance of any products is near impossible to track down.
Click the Photo for the link to the full article from The Washington Post
Send an email directly to Ivanka Trump's company at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cut and paste and customize for you.
I am concerned about your labor practices and feel that it is your social responsibility as a corporation to ensure fair labor and ethical standards as part of your bottom line.
Many smaller brands turn to industry-backed groups such as the Fair Labor Association or the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, to help address factory conditions and worker treatment. This could be an easy way for your company to get on track with what your customers truly want.
Sweatshops are a deep-rooted global problem, but solutions are emerging as workers and consumers demand a better system. I will only buy the best clothing from companies who act to create a better future for garment workers around the world.
Until your company changes it's policy towards how it is manufactured, I can no longer be your customer.
Thank you for your consideration.
It's about Kate Spade. Well not EXACTLY about the brand, but it's about opening up an email advertising a super cute tote for $99. I'd use it every day and it's hard to beat that price.
Then I got a little curious. I wonder where this bag is made?
My name is Stacy Nelson and back when I first started my Kate Spade addiction, her bags were made here in the USA. Some of the leather work was done in Europe, but the quality was good and there were no sweat shops involved that I knew of.
Each year I purchase one or two new bags, usually a Kate Spade. I use that bag all year long until the signs of wear start showing and then I donate it and get a fresh one. It's one of my vices that I'm happy to play into.
So I'm checking it out and guess where this bag that is listed as "IMPORTED" is actually made? Yep, China or Indonesia.
It's not that items made in those countries are inherently bad, but I cannot know for sure without tracking down the exact factory (and even that has other factors involved like outsourcing etc.) so it's safer just to cross it off my list.
It started a few months ago. I'm no fashionista. I'd like to consider myself a pretty average consumer but I had a shocking moment while sitting in my closet looking at all the cute shirts I've collected, all purchased on a bargain of some sort. I have designer brands and cheap brands. I paused for some reason to look at the labels - I'm going to blame Emma Watson for her Beauty and the Beast Press Tour where she vetted each item she wore, who made it, how it was ethically responsible, how many times she will wear it, etc. Almost everything I own is mass produced in places like China, India, Indonesia.
I dove into a rabbit hole. I've been reading, researching, feeling sicker & sicker and the worst part is that it was so overwhelming that I didn't know how to begin. I'm paralyzed with the knowledge that everything I buy has the ability to do good or do harm.
In this rabbit hole I saw a mention of a Buy 5 Campaign, encouraging people to buy 5 responsible clothing items this year and then letting the old companies know why you're no longer their customer.
It feels like a small thing to do, but imagine if each of us did this on simple thing.
Do the math.
That feels really good.
So I'm asking you a favor - can you commit to making just a 5 different choices this year?
This is about us making a gentle shift in our collective conscious consumption.
Because let's face it, something's got to replace Kate Spade in my closet and it's going to be something that's mindful, elegant and all around awesome...