Sweatshop Free...
Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve

Sweatshop labor is not a thing of the past...yet. But sweatshop free goals can be achieved by honoring our values.

What Is A Sweatshop?

A sweatshop is an environment in which workers deal with heavy repression and subjugation on a daily basis.

The workers have few, if any, rights and are employed in conditions that are difficult and dangerous. Workers often suffer inhumane conditions and are forced to work long hours with little or no pay. What pay they do receive doesn't meet their most basic needs and in many cases they depend on government food parcels (if there are any) as well.

There are no benefits - but there IS forced overtime, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, intimidation, and illegal firing.

Corporal punishment and non-payment of wages happens regularly. Children in developing countries are often found working in sweat shops where child labor laws are violated.

The fundamental rights of free speech and free association are non-existent. Anyone who tries to better the conditions by speaking out or organizing a union are fired, jailed, or even worse.

Workers collapse from exhaustion and are not given any medical attention. There is usually not any first aid remedies on site and work breaks are not tolerated.

There are all kinds of products produced under sub-standard labor and environmental conditions, of which clothing and apparel are only a part.

How Does This Happen?

In the bid to become multi-national corporations, large garment industry companies have outsourced clothing production by exploiting workers in low-wage and developing countries.

Countries like these are havens to big business because these corporations are able to escape close scrutiny. Home country labor laws and human rights are not enforced on companies operating abroad.

Here's how this type of corporate greed works. These companies often refuse to hire factories with union employees. They pay their contracted factories at rock bottom prices for product orders, often with an accompanying demand for these manufacturers to buy back unsold merchandise at the end of the season.

In response to this squeeze, these contractors protect their own profits by compromising their workers health, safety and livelihood.

These workers are ordinary people who want no more in life than the basic fundamental human rights of food, shelter and clothing.

They long for running water, medical care, and education. The receipt of dignity, respect and fair treatment would be a welcome change.

Everyone deserves the right to safe working conditions and decent wages for their work. This doesn't just happen in developing countries. Don't kid yourself, there are sweatshops in the western world as well.

Big Brand Names

Shockingly, some of the most notorious companies for this type of practice are the very ones that many western consumers admire for their clothing.

Many of these are the big brands that make the wearer feel a sense of success, power and status at being so well dressed. No doubt this false perception of importance came with a hefty price tag.

Now consider that the artisans creating these very products are working for less than 2 dollars a day. Many work for as little as 13 cents an hour or less, including bonuses (which are very unlikely).

Think about the incredible profits that are being reaped. To add insult to injury, these workers are often subjected to inhuman conditions and hazardous chemicals.

Do you still feel proud to wear these brand-name garments? To think that your high-priced clothing indicates that either the workers or the environment were treated fairly and responsibly could be an uneducated error on your part.

What Can We Do About Sweatshops?

The end target is the consumer. Without the consumer, these large corporations would flounder.

The basic law of economics is supply and demand. That gives the consumer the power to advocate and implement change. By creating demand for sweatshop free apparel, the supply must shift to follow. Public support would inevitably create reform.

  • By choosing sweatshop free clothing, we hold brand name corporations, manufacturers and retailers accountable.

  • Healthy work environments and safe working conditions are incorporated.

  • Both social and international standards improve.

  • Exploitation and repression is positively impacted.

  • Personal freedoms are restored.

  • Corporate greed and indifference gives way to human rights.

  • Public pressure would inspire industry leaders and other companies would follow suit.

  • A by-product of the global marketplace is pollution. Accountability on all levels would result in the implementation of responsible production methods and environmentally friendly practices.

The International Labour Organization, who promotes fair labor practices, is making worldwide worldwide gains.

Alternative Clothing

Global awareness is on the rise and the industry is beginning to set a trend toward ethical fashion and sustainable environmental practices which is a direct result of consumer driven standards and ideals.

Mainstream consumers want to do the right thing and they are giving a voice to their demands by choosing sweatshop free alternatives.

This new wave of enthusiasm and activism will be the leverage to activate companies to set new standards and improve global conditions to create a better future for everyone, both socially and environmentally.

How To Find Sweatshop Free Clothing

One good method is to look for the UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees) label. This means the product has a union label, which in turn means that the workers have a voice in the industry.

As well, seek out clothing bearing fair tradelabels. Look for organizations who publish ethical consumer guides.

It's a good idea to check out your favorite brand companies and let them know your concerns. Review their ethics. Write or email for more information. Tough consumer questions and concerns affirm their need to make any necessary changes.

Consumers taking their business elsewhere puts pressure on them to improve their standards become more responsible. Look for manufacturers and retailers who publish their values. Some clothing giants have already started pledging ambitious changes.

Support sweatshop free garments by looking for the fair trade label

Although ethical clothing may be a bit of a challenge in today's world, it's well worth the effort to find. By supporting clothing that is sweatshop free, you will provide fuel to promote the sweatshop free movement. The choices you make will help stamp out modern day slavery.

You can be assured that corporations will be making the necessary changes for their own survival and you will enjoy the benefit of future fashion choices, knowing that you played a vital role in one of our most necessary global changes.

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