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…
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.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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…
(Arifa, a single mother of three children, and a garment worker I met while traveling in Bangladesh)
One moment Reshma Begum was sewing. The next she was falling from her station on the second floor into the basement of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Savar, Bangladesh.
She lost consciousness. She awoke to cries of help that gradually silenced. Her clothes were shredded, everything was dark, and her hair was stuck in the rubble. She ripped her hair free and scavenged the dark crevices on her hands and knees finding four crackers, a small bottle of water, and the occasional puddle to quench her thirst. She probed her surroundings with a pipe for pockets of air.