It’s easy to feel hopeless and helpless in the face of news about sweatshops and dangerous working conditions for garment workers. Most recently, Zara workers in Turkey sewed calls for help into the pockets of garments. But we have a lot of power as citizens. There are plenty of things you can to help fight sweatshops in just a few minutes a day. Here are 4 ideas to get you started!
1. Ask Brands, #WhoMadeMyClothes?
Fashion Revolution is a global activist organization calling for a more transparent and fair garment industry. There are so many ways to get involved but one of the easiest (and most fun) is to post a picture of the label in your clothes on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and asking the brand you’re wearing #whomademyclothes. Look up the hashtag to get inspiration. To date, millions of citizens have participated and thousands of brands have responded.
2. Check Online Brand Rankings Before Shopping
Before you shop, check online to see if the brands you love have strong commitments to worker rights. Project JUST is an online database of brands that provides extensive and easy to digest information on company ethics. Rank a Brand is another great resource that grades brands based on a number of criteria. An app called Good on You also ranks brands and provides ethical alternatives. And the Fashion Revolution Transparency Index rates brands on their disclosure on important issues related to worker’s rights. If you find that your preferred brand falls short, consider switching to a company with a better score. Or drop the brand a letter or a Tweet and tell them you want to see a better performance.
3. Sign a Petition, Share on Facebook
Maybe signing a petition or sharing worker campaign information on Facebook is more your speed? Labour Behind the Label is a worker rights organization who has easy ways on their website to get involved and help garment workers, from petitions to fundraising. As does the Clean Clothes Campaign.
4. Help Garment Workers Closer to Home
Start by fighting sweatshops in your own backyard. If your home country has garment factory or textile mills chances are there are workers that need your support in the industry. In Los Angeles, a mostly Hispanic immigrant workforce routinely works for less than the minimum wage and far beyond the legal limit for hours. The Garment Worker Center is a non-profit workers rights organization based in L.A. working to end abuse in the local garment industry. To help stop L.A. sweatshops, you can donate to the the G.W.C. or shop their online store. You can also sign up for their mailing list to stay in the loop on their campaigns and actions.