Fight Human Trafficking Through Ethical Fashion

How to Fight Human Trafficking Through Fashion

The thought of tackling an issue like human trafficking is extremely daunting. With 24.9 million people trapped in modern day slavery today, it can seem impossible to help. But you may be able to have a bigger impact than you think.

Authur: Meghan McKenzie

Surprisingly, the fashion industry and human trafficking are actually closely linked. Much of the fast fashion we purchase today is made using exploitive systems such as sweatshops and slave labor. Whoever said ”life is short, buy the shoes” – should check the label first.

Today, countless companies have turned to fast fashion as a way to get more products into the hands of consumers quicker, through manufacturing clothing in the fastest and cheapest way possible. Many workers are funneled into sweatshops with unsafe and abusive working conditions.

This cheap labor comes primarily from women, who make up to 80% of the workers in the garment industry. Often, this labor comes at the cost of exploiting children as well.

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Research shows that many of the workers in the garment industry are victims of human trafficking, forced into slave labor. According to the GlGlobal Slavery Index’s 2018 report, published by the Walk Walk Free Foundation, $127.7 billion worth of garments that are at risk of including modern slavery in their supply chain are imported every year. Who ever said ”life is short, buy the shoes” should check the label first…

Fast Fashion

The rising demand for fast fashion not only has a negative effect on people, it is also extremely detrimental to the environment. In fact, the fashion industry has been named one of the most pollutive industries in the world due to it’s use of toxic chemicals in dyes, the massive amount of waste produced by discarded textiles, and the pollution and waste of water during the production of clothing. Gross, huh?
For example, in 2016 the US generated over 1616 million tons of textile waste per year, and nearly 10 million tons of this waste was placed in a landfill. On a global context, threthree-fifths of all clothing items will end up in a landfill within a year of being produced.

The fashion industry also contributes to 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions.

So how can you have an impact?
Next time you go shopping, slow down and consider how the product you want to buy was made. The products and clothing we buy affects more than just us. It is important to stop and consider the treatment of the people who made your product and the environmental impact of it’s production before purchasing it.
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Here are some steps you can take to shop more consciously:

Check if the product is ethically made – Ethical fashion covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare. The Common Objective defines ethical fashion as: ”an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment.”In short, the company cares about the people it employs and the planet.

Do your research to see if the brand you are buying from has ethical standards, you can find this on their website. If this information isn’t on there, it probably is not ethical.

Fair Trade

You can see if the product is Fair Trade Certified – this certification holds businesses to a very high standard and ensures that the business empowers the communities it employs by paying workers fair wages and helping them build sustainable livelihoods, creating a safe working environment, and establishing standards for environmental practices.

Additionally, you can support mother earth through shopping sustainably – this ”describes a system that perpetuates without creating harm to the environment. The company could use renewable materials, recycled materials, dyes that don’t harm the environment, etc.” (Fair FashFair Fashion Magazine) Again, check to see if the company has environmental standards for their products. You can also try to buy clothing made of sustainable msustainable materials, such as linen or organic cotton.

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Other words to look for include: handmade, artisan made, slow fashion, and conscious fashion.

By being a conscious consumer, you have the power to empower others, support efforts to lift people out of slavery, and make the world a better, cleaner place for the next generation. If consumers stop buying fast fashion, then companies will no longer have the desire to keep producing products in such a destructive way.

A more ethical world starts with you, as Christine Caine the founder of The A21 Campaign, an anti-human trafficking NGO, once said ”When a lot of people do a little, it adds up and makes a difference.” We can change the world, one cute ethical top at a time!

For more ethical fashion follow @meghanlynnemckenzie


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