Stand Up Against Sweatshop Labor By Shopping Ethically

by Talia Bellia

     A building housing several factories making clothing for European and American consumers collapsed into a deadly heap in April of 2013 leaving 134 dead and 2,500 injured.

 A building housing several factories making clothing for European and American consumers collapsed into a deadly heap in April of 2013 leaving 134 dead and 2,500 injured.

Feminism, in my eyes, is the fight for societal, political and economical equality for people, across the globe, of all genders, sexualities, races, and abilities. In this sense, feminism therefore is   and should be inclusive of worker’s rights, and to ensure that all are given the human rights they deserve. Many major corporations, such as fast-fashion clothing outlets and large chain grocery stores,  have failed a plethora of times to prove that they believe in the safety and well-being of their workers.

A recent tragedy was the 2013 collapse of a Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, in which thousands of lives were effected due to the collapse of an eight story building, which killed 134 people and left 2,500 injured. Many suffered catastrophically life changing injuries to both the body and the mind. Abuse from the owners of the factory was a daily routine, as according to Selim Reza, on the day of the disaster “[The owners] threatened us. They beat some of us and told us there was nothing to worry about. Nothing will happen” (Parveen).  The many of the companies involved in the factory are recognized as ‘Family Favorites’, who mask their true ideals with promises to their consumer of looking cute and trendy. Those companies of which include H&M, Walmart, J.C. Penney, Primark, Mango, Zara, Joe Fresh, Adler Modemarkte, and The Children’s Place.

This type of irresponsibility and apathy towards people just trying to provide for their family, or save enough to get an education or fund their dreams happens so often; however, we as consumers have the power to put an infinite stop to these injustices.  If you had the power to touch the lives of people across the globe, and change the normalized amounts of greed and apathy that is accepted by society, wouldn’t you?  

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I understand that shopping ethically can, at first, seem very costly and difficult to do. I may even seem like it will hinder your fashionista level. I am here to tell you not to worry, for shopping ethically is very cost effective, and allows you to broaden your fashion tastes, finding unique pieces that truly speak to you. First off let’s take one step back. You are a cute and awesome human being despite what clothes you wear or how you look! Anyone who says any different can take a walk down the Get Your Facts Straight Avenue. Below I have provided some of my favorite fashion and food sources for supporting ethical stores:

  • Thrift Stores and Second-Hand Shops

    • Thrift Stores and Second-Hand Shops allows you to pick from a variety of unique and vintage pieces, and find something that truly speaks to them. Each article of clothing has a story, and by shopping at these stores, you also reduce the environmental damage factories create.

  • Modcloth ( Made in America section )

    • Modcloth is great source for a variety of adorable and affordable  fashion and decor items for every different style. This store is also a seller of high quality vintage pieces that are discover frequently (and also sold out quickly!).
  • Mata Traders

    • Mata Traders is a clothing brand that partners with fair trade organizations in Nepal and India, and who, while providing health care, paid maternity leave, and education, place a strong emphasis on equality and women empowerment.

  • Me To We

    • Depending on which  handcrafted item (or items) you purchase (such as my favorite, the Rafiki Bracelet), your money goes towards either providing health care, educational tools, education and freshwater for children, adults and families in Africa.  You can even track your impact, and just by signing up for their email list, you donate 25 L of water to a child in need.

  • 1950 Collective

    • This store feature a plethora of on trend and feminist items,  some of which featuring your favorite musicians  and song quotes. Many are made in America and support charities.

  • Local Farmer’s Markets

    • Supporting Local Farmers’ Markets helps in supporting your community, while also boycotting major organizations who pay their farmers little to nothing. Many local markets, especially in the southern states and  and along the west coast, allow many to work to receive food in addition to their payment. Working jobs as such on the side or even full time diminishes your cost of groceries and can improve your health!

I hope these sources help in your decision to support ethical organizations, and adds workers’ rights to your feminist agenda.