Corporate Responsibility: For Clothing Meet Maggie

Corporate Responsibility Mondays

Corporate Responsibility Mondays continue as we turn toward clothing
companies. It’s something you and many generations before and after you
need, whether you like it or not. Ever since the fall there’s been a
market for us to cover ourselves, and a beautiful opportunity for us to
do so in a responsible way. What you wear is not just about fashion and
style, there is so much more to it, there are real people behind the
label.

In cooperation with Josh, Corporate Responsibility Mondays are our chance to introduce you to both the troubling facts behind some of our big brands (thanks to Josh)
and to people and corporations that are doing business in a way you can
support and believe in. Today we are talking about the clothing
industry. Josh will talk about one of the big names in the business, and I’ll introduce you to a company that is doing business in a way I think we can all be excited about.

Maggie's Organics

The most common response I hear when I start talking about trying to
make purchases in a way that is just and fair, is “yeah, but I’m sure
every company has problems if you look for it.” In other words, people
justify their choices by convincing themselves that everyone’s corrupt
so there’s no real point. We’ll I’m proud to say that you can point all
the Cynic’s to Maggie’s Organics. From the plant to your foot, every step of the clothing production and process is something to be proud of.

Maggie’s purchases their merchandise from Nueva Vida Women’s Sewing
Cooperative (COMAMNUVI), the world’s first WORKER-OWNED Free Trade
Zone. This isn’t just a big corporation out to make money in the name
of social responsibility, this is a genuine business, where the power
rests in the hands of those that matter most, the workers.

Their website says it all:

In Nicaragua there are many free trade zones where mainly women work in “sweat shops”, producing clothing under unacceptable labor conditions, long hours and low pay. In a cooperative,
the workers are the owners. We are working together to create
sustainable employment in the community so that we can support
ourselves and our families.

If your even more interested in how the cooperative came to be, I’d
encourage you to check out their video, Ants that Move Mountains, which
I made available on youtube (Ants 1 and 2).

Maggie’s Organics
is a great distributer and has most of the basics that everyone needs,
from socks to simple t-shirts. The neat thing is that there prices are
fairly reasonable too. You can buy t-shirts from $13 and score them on closeout for $10. Socks are more expensive then the sweatshop made ones, but I think the trade off is worth it.

When compared to companies with practices like Josh describes, a fair
trade cooperative, is clearly the best option out there. An interview
of a local worker at a major factory (possibly one operated by the company Josh discussed) and one at the coop shows some of the differences (pdf).
Everything from working conditions and wages, to paid time off and
vested interest in the product and company, it’s apparent that Maggie’s
Organics and the Nicaraguan Cooperative are doing some amazing things.

When it comes to the clothing industry I don’t think we can make
excuses about not doing what’s right. I see two options… Either buy
your clothing second-hand or buy it new from a fair trade company like Maggie’s Organics.

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