27 Dec What’s In Your Closet
Nearly 21 million people – three out of every 1,000 people worldwide – are victims of forced labor across the world, trapped in jobs which they were coerced or deceived into and which they cannot leave.
One contributor to “forced labor” is fast fashion, which is defined as cheap, trendy clothing that transitions directly from the catwalk or celebrity culture to retail stores for consumer purchasing. Its purpose is to get the newest styles on the market as quickly as possible so consumers will purchase them at the height of popularity.?
Since labor typically is cheaper in countries overseas that have lower wages, less strict labor laws, and operate under fair trade agreements, the United States outsources a significant portion of its fashion products to foreign producers. Check the label inside your shirt, and you may find “Made In” Bangladesh, Vietnam, or India printed inside. If consumers desire cheap prices and care little about the origin of their clothes, few incentives exist for clothing companies to produce domestically, even though the ethical standards may be higher.
January is National Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This January, WTLC is highlighting labor exploitation in the retail industry and examining ways we can make a difference in the community through our awareness and actions. Join us for events all month long!
Here are five simple ways to build a slave-free closet:
- Support Ethical Brands
Do your research. Support fair trade companies. Make sure your favorite brands are ethical, which means they are providing fair wages and safe working conditions for their employees. Every time you make a purchase you are “dollar voting.” Using your dollar to cast a vote in favor for a company or brand. Your vote counts. Your decision to buy or not buy matters. You can fight slavery by supporting ethical brands. You can make a difference in the life of another every time you shop.
- Shop Less: Choose Better
Shop less! Embrace a minimalist lifestyle. Purchase a small number of items that you love rather than having tons of options you only wear out of guilt.
- Quality Over Quantity
Invest in ethical pieces that will last. Fast fashion brands have all received bad press for sweat-shop labor conditions for their workers. However, we can’t assume high dollar items equal fair wages for the garment workers either. Purchase fair trade, ethical brands. It may be more expensive, but the quality and the accountability in a slave-free supply chain is worth it.
- Buy Vintage or Second Hand
Thrift shopping can be your new favorite hobby. You can find some great gems just by searching through a local thrift store. Embrace gently used and well-loved clothes. It is eco-friendly and a great way to support local and national stores that are giving back to their communities in more ways than one.
- Value the Clothes You Have
Embrace the clothes in your closet right now. Host a clothes swap with your friends or mix and match your current wardrobe for greater variety. Less is more. Hold onto the items you love and give away those pieces that haven’t seen the light of day in months. Cleaning and reorganizing your closet can be very therapeutic.
We all can truly make a difference in the fight to end slavery when we collaborate. Do some research on your favorite brands. Start small but dream big! We can fight slavery one purchase at a time.