Wearing Despair

Photo: Luc Forsyth for IndustriAll Global Union

Photo: Luc Forsyth for IndustriAll Global Union

Are our shopping habits hurting people on the other side of the world?

This is a question that more and more Westerners are thinking about. While most of us would never be supportive of slave-like work conditions in theory, the issue becomes blurry when it presents in the form of our clothes. We don’t sense the burden when we’re clicking through clothes online (Wow! $10 maxi dress….score!) or stocking up on school uniforms for our kids at places that won’t break the bank. In many ways, we feel that we’re being good stewards of our resources when we shop for the best prices on clothing. And yet….

The issue is complex. How are these clothes so affordable? At what cost? Often, clothes are cheap when the labor is cheap, and “the labor” is a multitude of human beings spending grueling days in garment factories. Often in SE Asia. Often in Cambodia.

We read and hear horrifying reports of workers fainting and dying in these working conditions, overextending themselves in every way to make enough money to survive and support their families. We don’t see this. It doesn’t often make headlines here in the U.S. What we see is an inbox flooded with subject lines like “Clearance Sale!” and “Spring Must-Haves!” at prices our wallets agree with. And yet…

There are stories like this. And this. What can we do with these stories? How can we stop this from happening to our brothers and sisters halfway around the world? We can shop responsibly. It isn’t as tricky as it sounds, either. As actress Ashley Judd famously declared, “I don’t want to wear someone else’s despair.” We don’t want to, either.

Consider the source of your clothes, and opt to support workers paid living wages and afforded good working conditions. Our byTavi line is the perfect place to shop, because not only are our seamstresses paid fair trade wages, they’re being cared for on a spiritual and emotional level as well.

Let’s use our dollars to lift others out of poverty rather than driving them deeper into it.

 

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