Clothes and such…

Lately I have been watching a program on the ABC called  Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts (http://www.abc.net.au) which follows  6 British young adults who go to India to work in the factories that make their ‘up market’ clothing.  They get paid the same amount as the workers and have to live on what ever they earn. They have quickly realised that the work is really hard, the conditions very poor and the pay very little.  One of them, last week asked a local why they simply didn’t just get out of their conditions, as if it was that easy. He then went on to comment that he always thought that people simply chose to live like that! I’m not sure which world he grew up in, but obviously one where he had no idea how disadvantaged some people are, and it isn’t really their fault! The last episode is this week (Wednesday night, 8.30pm) and this week they are working in the slums in Mumbai, as well as going home. It will be interesting to see how their experience has changed them, if at all.

For me however, it has really made me think about my clothes and where they come from. I have, or had, no problem going to the shops and buying a $20 top here or there and not even considering where it came from or who made it. I look for fair trade coffee and chocolate (now Cadbury’s!), and often go to fair trade stores, but I have never really considered that my clothing is actually a major area of sweat shops and slave labour. After watching last weeks show, and seeing the workers in India in the cotton fields and factories I felt really convicted to change my shopping habits. I started to look on line to see what was out there in terms of fair trade clothing – to my amazement there is actually a lot! One great website that has some fashionable feminine stuff is Marigold (http://www.marigoldfairtradeclothing.com). It is American based, but employs over 200 women in a co-op in India, offering them fair wages and conditions. They even tell you the difference they are making in the lives of their employees, right down to the cotton pickers.  I have asked for some stuff for mothers day!

One of the guys on the TV program made the comment that if we don’t keep buying the same stuff, then the people wouldn’t have any jobs or be getting any money.  But that really is a cop out I think. In stopping the purchase of such clothing and buying as much fair trade as possible, the governments and hopefully employers will realise the need for better wages and implement such…well at least we can hope for this…

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2 Responses to Clothes and such…

  1. Bek says:

    Yes! I saw one of those eps too. I saw the guy who said we need to keep buying the clothes so that “these people keep their jobs” and I really felt he was missing the point too.

    If consumers only start buying clothes which have been produced by people who earn a fair wage, then surely it will become good business to ensure your employees earn a fair wage… ?

    Thanks for the link, I’m off to check it out!

  2. Sarah Singleton says:

    It was a fascinating show…I only happened upon it myself and didn’t see the end of the series either, which I had planned too!!
    Just even the responses of each of the individual British people was eye opening. I wonder what re-entry to the UK and life and family will be like…and even 6 months on how are they living differently because of what they saw and experienced.
    Short term experiences can be LIFE CHANGING…

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