Posts with Category Where Am I Wearing?

Should we be for child labor in Bangladesh?

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The worst thing isn’t that we live in a world where child labor exists, it’s that we live in a world where mothers and fathers who love their children send their kids off to work for the day because they have to. They have to rely on their income.

At least that’s how I feel about child labor. It’s not as clear cut of an issue as some make it out to be. In fact, a group of academics came out against the UN’s stricter child labor rules calling them a damaging mistake:

“Banning children from work doesn’t bring them back into school; in fact, it might do the opposite if they were working to pay their school fees.

“For some children it’s a matter…

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6th grader writes editorial in support of garment workers in Bangladesh

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We all need to be a bit more like 6th grader Kayne McConnell of Shelbyville, Illinois. Kayne wrote an editorial to the Shelbyville Daily Union titled, “Upset over Bangladesh working conditions.”

He writes:

Hi, my name is Kayne. I am telling you about the garment workers in Bangladesh. They make some of the most popular clothing in America, but people are dying there.

I am only a 6th grader, but I care about these people. Like in Bangladesh, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed and killed thousands of innocent people!

Also in another factory in Bangladesh, a fire happened and destroyed the building, only two months after!

Please consider spreading awareness. These people need better work conditions.

People get killed by…

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Syrian children flee ISIS for sweatshops in Turkey

Syrian boy in Turkeysweatsho
A small boy makes shoes in the factory. Photograph: Ahmed Deeb

Syrian refugees have been flooding into Turkey, but what do they do when they make it there? Some work in apparel factories.

“He can make 400 shoes a day. He’s a real man.”

That quote is from the manager at a shoe factory about his 13-year-old Syrian worker. According to the story in the Guardian, more than ⅓ of the workers at the factory were Syrian children.

From the article:

According to Unicef, more than half of Turkey’s 2.7 million registered Syrian refugees are children – and nearly 80% of them are not in school….

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Her name was Laboni, she died making our clothes.

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Three years ago the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing 1,134 people and injuring more than 2,500 more.

Sometimes when I deliver the information above in a lecture I say,”killed 1,134 workers.” As if a worker is a cog without a family, friends, and a complex life just like ours. I cringe at the word workers passing my lips. It’s vital that we all remember that people make our things.

Sons. Daughters. Fathers. Mothers. Aunts. Uncles. Best friends. These are the lives that were snuffed out by the unregulated manic growth of the Bangladeshi garment industry trying to feed consumers ever-hungry for cheaper prices and throwaway fashions.

Today marks three years since the disaster, and I hope you’ll join me in doing…

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Mobile phones giving 500K garment workers & famers a voice

The common questions asked when we talk about how to have a fair supply chain include: What laws can governments pass to protect workers? What kind of inspections should brands do?  What are the responsibilities of factories, retailers, and consumers?

But one very important question is left out: How do all of the stakeholders work to empower the laborers themselves to have a voice?

One of the most positive answer to that solution is LaborLink. LaborLink was started by Good World Solutions, “a non-profit social enterprise with a vision that every worker should have a free and anonymous channel to report directly to decision-makers about their working conditions, opinions and needs.” That channel is something most farmers and factory workers have already, they’re mobile phone.

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Beanie-to-briefs in ethical brands for less than a pair of boots

(Rocking my Krochet Kids beanie)

Most folks think shopping for clothing with your ethics is a privilege that few can afford. I’ve been writing about being an ethical and engaged consumer since I traveled around the world to meet the people who made my clothes.

Since writing Where Am I Wearing? I encouraged folks to wear one thing a day they knew was produced in a way that treated people and planet fairly. I reach a lot of college students and thought that a whole outfit in such clothes would be unaffordable.

That’s what I thought . . . until today.

Today, I decided to do a little online shopping experiment: I…

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Painting by Austin Peay State U student Toni Agee

APSU students are awesomely talented. I only saw the winners and honorable mentions of their creative response assignment for WHERE AM I WEARING. The fact that student Toni Agee’s painting was neither is just a testament to how awesome these projects were.

Behold…

When we work it may look like we are concentrating on the task at hand, but often we’re focused on more important things, such as why we are working in the first place. Even the person who makes your clothes has a rich inner life.

Well done, Toni!

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Join me in kickstarting Krochet Kids’ World’s Greatest Beanie


One of my absolute favorite clothing brands is Krochet Kids. A few years ago I had the chance to meet one of the founders of this nonprofit apparel brand, Kohl Crecelius, when he was speaking at Ball State.

Kohl and his buddies, Travis and Stewart, were avid snow sports enthusiasts in high school and wanted to have some headwear that was different than anyone’s on the slopes. They learned to crochet beanies and the friends started filling custom orders.

After high school Stewart traveled to Uganda on a trip that had nothing to do with beanies or crocheting and realized how little opportunity existed for the people there.

(This is massive paraphrasing)

They thought if a couple of dudes from Washington state could…

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Is rural America becoming China’s China for manufacturing?

Many in the Carolinas thought the textile industry was gone for good. That it had moved to China and would never return. But the NY Times reports that a textile mill is opening in Indian Land, SC, and it has an unlikely owner.

The Chinese-owned Keer Group is moving some textile production back from China to South Carolina.

From the Times piece:

Textile production in China is becoming increasingly unprofitable after years of rising wages, higher energy bills and mounting logistical costs, as well as new government quotas on the import of cotton.

At the same time, manufacturing costs in the United States are becoming more competitive. In Lancaster County, where Indian Land is located, Keer has found residents desperate for work, even at depressed…

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