Ethical Fashion // Why I Thrift Shop

Picture from Kristen's Instagram: Check it out here

Have you ever thought about where the clothes you buy come from? Who made the clothes you are wearing? 

If you buy from brands like H&M, Zara and Topshop that is especially a question you should ask. Why? Because these companies use their workers and pay them very little to work in dangerous conditions. 
Have you ever thought about how clothes from fast fashion brands and super cheap online stores, like Wish, Zaful, Boohoo, Shein or Romwe, can be so cheap and 'affordable'? We don't think about it for even a second but it is something we should spread more information about and today I am going to talk about why.

I have been mostly thrift shopping for many many years but until recently I also shopped at stores like H&M and Topshop. Then I found the Greek youtuber Kristen Leo who opened my eyes to how poor the conditions are for the workers from the fast fashion companies and since watching her videos I have not bought any clothes (or other things in general) from fast fashion brands. 
If you do not want to thrift shop she has made a list with ethical brands - check it out here. And definitely check out her channel, she makes awesome videos. You can watch her ethical fashion videos here

But what does ethical fashion mean? 
Ethical fashion means that the people making the clothes are not working in dangerous environments and under horrible conditions earning very little to do so. But who cares? You get a cheap shirt.. The thing is though, you vote with your dollar. What you buy is what you support. Do you want to support people being taken advantage of just so you can have cheap clothes? 

Do you want another human, even a child, to suffer and work in horrible conditions in order for you to buy cheap clothes, sometimes even clothes you buy because 'well it's cheap so why not' only to end up in the back of your closet? Is is worth it when it means that the people making the clothes are suffering?

My answer is no. So let's get more into the conditions at sweatshops for fast fashion brands: 

But first, what is a sweatshop? 
"A sweatshop is a manufacturing facility where workers endure poor working conditions, long hours, low wages and other violations of labour rights. Unfortunately, places known as sweatshops are particularly common in developing countries where labour laws are often not enforced.

Factories can be located in dangerous and deteriorating buildings that are not safe places to work. There have been several cases of factory collapses and fires in Bangladesh. Other issues of concern are workers with exposure to toxic substances or using dangerous machinery without adequate protection."

Souce: 
https://www.oxfam.org.au/what-we-do/ethical-trading-and-business/workers-rights-2/are-your-clothes-made-in-sweatshops/

Sweatshops can be defined as factories that violate two or more labour laws, such as violating minimum wages, work safety laws and child labor. 

Why they aren't ethical: 
- The workers work in horrible conditions. There have been multiple cases where buildings have collapsed - In a Bangladesh factory collapse over a 1000 people died and people have died in a fire at an H&M factory because of poor conditions - read about that here.  

- Some workers are exposed to dangerous chemicals for a long period of time without any protection leading them to be affected for the rest of their lives. 

- The workers do not earn a fair living wage - some places women get 15 cents an hour to sew. They are treated as machines. Something that will be sold for 140$ or more only pay the woman sewing it 24 cents. The lowest hourly wage has been reported to be 0,13$US.

- It takes an average of 70 hours per week for a worker in a sweatshop to exceed the average income for their country.  

- Fast fashion brands use child labour. 2 out of  6 workers are children! The clothes you have in your closet could be made by children. Around 250 million children at the age of 5-14 are forced to work in sweatshops. 

- The workers work more than 12 hours a day with little to no breaks. There are also factories where the workers aren't allowed to go to the toilet. Some places they even work 19 hours a day. 

- If women get pregnant they get fired because they aren't useful work anymore. There are also women being sexually abused by their bosses - you can read about that and more here

- It has even been reported that some places workers are held against their will. They are literally slaves. Read about that and more here

But what can you do about it? 
We need to take responsibility for our actions. Actions, like buying clothes from fast fashion brands, are contributing to the suffering of millions of people including children. Set yourself aside and think of the people suffering. Figure out where and who is making your clothes. Stop buying from fast fashion brands. Thrift shop instead or buy from ethical brands. There are actually a ton of brands out there that are ethical. Avag.co is a great site where you can find ethical (and vegan) clothing brands and more. I will definitely make more posts about ethical fashion. 

Learn more: 
If you want to learn more watch the documentary 'The True Cost' - you can watch it on Netflix - Learn more about the movie and watch the trailer here.  

Here are a few videos from Kristen I would recommend you watching: 

Another educational video is Marketplace's video on the waste problem of fast fashion: 

An educational article with the shocking statistics of sweatshops: 

Before buying fast fashion, think about the people that suffer. Someone else is paying the price in order for the clothes you buy to have low prices. How is fashion more important than people?

Soluuna