Sweatshops In Your Life
Sweatshops have emerged in our society and they are a daily part of our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. Chances are that anywhere from at least 50% all the way up to 100% of all the clothes in your closet are made by a factory work who is working in a sweatshop. The issue has been getting more attention, but there is still a lot more awareness that has to be done. If all of your favourite clothing brands are part-taking in sweatshops, (which they probably are!) dont you think you have the responsibility to do a little research and become knowledgeable on the topic? Lucky for you, if you keep reading this page, you will learn about sweatshops,how they affect the world, and how you can help.
What Is A Sweatshop?
The word “sweatshop” has many definitions because of how broad of a word it is. I believe the US Department of Labor do a great job of creating an accurate description as they say a sweatshop is any factory that violates more than one of the fundamental US labor laws, which include paying a minimum wage and keeping a time card, paying overtime, and paying on time. Another aspect that should be mentioned is how the workers are respected, because as you keep reading, you will find soon out that this is the least of priorities for most companies. To give you another definition of a sweatshop, I would personally define it as any job that takes advantage and exploits the use of other human beings. Companies take advantage by not maintaining the working environment, cutting wages down, giving no say in the company, and essentially making them devote their lives to sitting and sewing.
Real Life Examples
- In 2010, a factory located in Bangladesh supplying to the clothing retailer H&M had caught fire. The fire exits were blocked and supplies and equipment to contain the fire were not available. As a result this fire killed 21 workers. Had they cared about the safety of the factory, there is no doubt that this number would of been lower, or even 0.
- A worker in Mexico told investigators about how he had been treated at his job. The workers name is Alvaro and he told them how he had to meet a quota of 1000 pieces of clothing per day. For him to meet he quota he has no choice but to sew. If he were to take a water or bathroom break, he would not meet the quota. And when he is sewing it is a far from comfortable environment. He has to stand for the whole time and works with hot vapour, that burns his skin frequently
- A group of workers making garments in Mexico say that their factory forces them to work through the entire night, and even if they wanted to leave they cant because there are security guards that do not let them
- In 2012, more than 110 workers died because of a fire that took place in a garment factory located in Bangladesh.
These are just some of the very few examples of how inhumane and sickening the sweatshop business is. Other practices that happen to the workers often is abuse through words, sexual abuse, and even putting women on birth control so that they can’t take their maternity leave.
Eye Opening Facts
- Many Nike workers have passed away at the young age of 15 due to working in sweatshops
- It has been estimated that the number of children aged 5 -14 working in sweatshops worldwide is roughly 250 million
- Although sweatshops occur mainly in developing countries, the U.S.A is not innocent either. In 2000, it was estimated that there were 11,000 sweatshops across the county
- On average, if the workers wage were to double, the product would only go up in price by 1.8%
- Women make up around 90% of all sweatshop workers
- If inspections even get done on a factory, they are paid by the clothing industry so it is not a genuine inspection. On top of this, the factory gets notified when they are coming, so they have time to clean, etc.
- Workers for Victoria’s Secret have been slapped and beaten by supervisors for making small errors, or not working fast enough
- Sweatshops occur mainly in clothing, but there are many other products that they are being used in as well. Some of the other main products are coffee, toys, chocolate, shoes, and bananas
- Women that sew NBA jerseys make around 24 cents per garment for a product that is going to sell for $140 or more. In other words, out of all the money the jersey makes, only 0.0017% will go back the worker
- Children start working up to 16 hours a day when they are only 6 or 7 years old
Companies Caught Using Sweatshops
Here is a very small list of some clothing companies that have been known to use sweatshops, just to give you an idea of how prominent this topic is:
- Victoria’s Secret
- H & M
- La Senza
- Joe Fresh
- Forever 21
- Urban Outfitters
- Banana Republic
- Ralph Lauen
- Calvin Klein
- The North Face
What You Can Do
Now that you are educated about sweatshops, it is time to take action! There are many small things in your day to day life that you can do that will help put an end toward sweatshops! The first is to educate others sweatshops and the negative effects it has on people, because the more people that know the better. The second thing to start trying to do is buying sweatshop free clothing. Despite all of the companies that do use sweatshops, there are still some out there that do not. Do a little research and find out which companies treat their workers ethically, and start buying with them. A great example is Bela + Canvas. They are 100% sweatshop free and have very strong morals and ethics. This is the supplier of all our t-shirts, so therefore we are 100% sweatshop free as well! The third way to help is to buy less clothing. If you know you are only going to wear a pair of pants once or twice and not get good use out of them, then don’t even bother buying them. If you are a person that likes variety however and you do not want to be limited to a small amount of clothing, then buy your clothes secondhand, and that can go a long way!