I am writing this article to spread awareness of what I’m calling the best-kept secret for the Western consumer. The reality of this issue hit me like a ton of bricks!
Would you buy fast food if you knew where it came from? Do you ever feel paranoid when restaurants are afraid to show you their kitchen? Would you continue to eat processed meat if you were familiar with how it’s made? This issue is so outrageous, so intense, so unbelievable, I believe people would change their habits when confronted with the truth. Are you willing to be confronted with the truth? Enough to disturb your busy day?
The shocking secret I’m talking about here is prevalent use of unfair wages, slavery, and human trafficking, especially in the garment manufacturing industry.
This all started when I had heard a great sermon from Solid Rock Church in Portland, Or. Download this MP3 and take a listen from a Biblical perspective from someone far more eloquent than myself,
Working Conditions & Forced Labor
Below are several different videos to educate yourself on the many issues related to Human trafficking and Slavery and their twisted ties with the garment industry. Take your time with this page. I doubt you’ll have time to watch them all at once, but I’d encourage you to come back and spend time learning about the things going on. Make this a priority to investigate and let this concern interrupt your life. There are hundreds of these videos, and I’ve just collected a handful that I thought were beneficial. Please share these with your friends and family!
The High Cost of Cheap Clothes
Made in Bangladesh
CBS News undercover in Bangladesh
A wage you can live from
Nike Sweatshops with Michael Moore
AWESOME Norwegen TV Miniseries
Below is a trailer, but the entire 52min series is available to rent for $3.99
The True Cost
Documentary available on Netflix and more
Slaves of Dubai
Many times manufacturers claim to run a fair operation but fail to research their material suppliers. Under these suppliers can come some of the harshest working conditions. It is both the retailer and manufacturer’s duty to routinely monitor where their materials are coming from.
200,000+ Girls Trafficked into Cotton Mills
Cotton from India
Cotton Crimes: forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry
Workers never tasting the chocolate they produce
The Dark Side Of Chocolate
Slave ships & supermarkets: Modern day slavery in Thailand
AP: Supermarkets Selling Shrimp Peeled By Slaves
Hey look, I found some extra money for the poor workers!
Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries $48.1 million
Starbucks Corp CEO Howard Shultz $28.9 million
Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon $19.06 million
Nike CEO Mark Parker
GAP Inc CEO Glenn Murphy $16.1 million
Target Corp CEO Gregg Steinhafel $19.7 million
Hershey Co CEO John Bilbrey $12.3 million
So what can I really do?
Well… you have a few options. And it all starts with your heart’s response to this situation. This is a VERY complicated issue and there is no clear solution. You may say to yourself, “We can’t inspect every organisation, why try at all?” or “We can’t boycott shopping from all of these companies, so why stop shopping from any?. For many hearing this news, ignorance is bliss. I pray that you would be in favor of the poor and powerless (I know our savior is). Consider taking one small step in the right direction. We can’t fix our broken world, only Christ can do that. But we can obey Christ by loving our neighbor, and being just in our business and commerce. As American consumers, we have a really strong voice. Our voices are so much louder than the workers trapped in the silence of slavery. If you’re interested in taking your first step towards battling this beast, here are a few ways I’ve found to fight back!
1. Knowing is half the battle so educate and spread awareness
How many slaves work for you?
Not for Sale
Free the slaves
End Slavery Now
2. Write letters to companies you enjoy shopping from!
NEVER STOP ASKING QUESTIONS Ask your favorite brands how their clothese are made. Ask them when they will be able to offer fair trade prodcuts. When the consumers demand, the companies will change. For example, take a look at the recent “organic” revolution. I’ve already written letters to some of my favorite brands letting them know I can no longer purcahse their products, and eagerly await them to offer change. Social media is another great way to spread awareness and get companies attention. We really do have a lot of power as consumers!
Send Letters online
Made in a Free World
3. Boycott misbehaving brands
Free2Work, Company Ratings
4. Buy less stuff or buy anything second hand from thrift shops
5. Raise funds for great organizations
Made in a Free World
Not for Sale
End Slavery Now
6. Next time, buy fair trade or from a trusted company
Fair Trade USA
Ethical Shopping Guide
Fair Trade Shopping Guide
Patagonia Fair Trade
Prana Fair Trade
Fair Trade Smart Phone
Global Goods Partners Hand Made
Kingdom Growers Coffee
7. Pray for justice, mercy, and Christ’s return as perfect judge
“…for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.”
“And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
James 5:1–6 ESV
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.”
Proverbs 11:1 (ESV)
“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.”
Deuteronomy 16:19 (ESV)
“You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous.”