Tag Archives: sweatshops

No Sweat Shoes Might Not Be As Sweat Free As They Claim

No Sweat crossed out

This is terribly disappointing and shocking information, but it points to the need for us to be critical shoppers and not passive consumers when it comes to all things, even those that claim to be “Fair” or “Green.”

I’ve written about No Sweat before and found them to be an impressive company overall. They made a switch a few years back to start offering products made overseas, but they put in some stringent measures to ensure fair labor practices including outside independent auditors. And they even put the reports on their site. “Brilliant!” I had thought, a new standard in the efforts to be conscious consumers. However, I neglected to even take a look at one of the reports.

Here, courtesy of adbusters browsing, is some of what those reports contain:

Question 2: Have you ever had a bad experience at work, like forced labor or underpayment of wages?

[The numbers indicate number of employees responding, and not percentages]
Yes: 39
No: 11

Question 6: If you add up your wages, wage supplements (food, Lebaran bonus), and your level of satisfaction at work, do you think you are paid fairly?
Yes: 8
No: 42

Question 10: What is the most accurate description of your experience at work?
Positive and friendly: 6
Fair – no complaints: 7
Unpleasant (pressured to work faster or disrespectful treatment from supervisors): 37

Q: So, are these Sweatshop free shoes, or another example of Greenwashing?

Socially Conscience Children’s Books

After reading a number of story books to our friends three year old, I realize it would be sweet to write children’s books. Specifically children’s books that teach about important global issues.
It would be great to write about the impact that using too much water or driving in a car too much has on our environment. What about a series addressing sweatshops and the importance of buying clothes that weren’t made by other little children?

Our children our currently being raised to become happy little consumers. Why not turn them into happy little activist?

Anyone know how to illustrate?

Fair Trade Interview with Eric Odier-Fink of The Justice Clothing Company

I had the wonderful opportunity this morning of interviewing Eric Odier-Fink of The Justice Clothing Company. Eric graciously gave me a bit of his time to answer some questions about Justice Clothing, Sweatshops, Unions and Fair Trade.

or Download the Podcast Here.

Show Notes:

00:24 Why did you start The Justice Clothing Company?

  • “It really started out of Frustration.”
  • The idea for the Justice Clothing Company was born around 1996 when we met and, among other things, began shopping together. (from the website)

  • “The US is predominately sweatshop in it’s apperal production.”
  • 1998- Received Catalogs from Union companies (King Louie clothing, Nemisis and Windjammers)
  • “Is there Anywhere in the United States for me to buy your gear?”
  • “These where companies that where absolutely clean.”

03:15 Working with Union Companies

  • “We only work with Union Companies”
  • Tried to work with Non-Union (ended well before they began selling their gear).
  • Ben and Jerry’s as a Non-Union example
  • Non-Union companies weren’t willing to meet their conditions

06:30 Talking about American Apparel

  • Discussed working with American-Apparel (It didn’t work out, and it was clearly for the best)
  • American-Apperal’s Ugly Union busting Article
  • AA’s Sexist ads and Sexual Harrasment
  • American Apparel makes clothes, Justice Clothing sells clothes (that union companies make).

11:00 The importance of Unions

  • “Unions are the only thing responsible for prosperity in the United States.”
  • “Unions bring together workers who, individually, don’t really have any power.”
  • “The only power a worker has, is to stop the work that they do.”
  • Eric tells the story of his grandfather being almost “worked to death.”
  • Why Unions improve companies and the quality of products.

14:45 Justice Clothing becoming a Cooperative

  • No longer “Employer, employees.”
  • Expanding to others outside the business
  • A few “not really for the radio” details about the Co-op.

18:15 Dealing with your overwhelming closet full of sweatshop clothing

22:45 What’s your take on Thrift Stores

  • Usually fronts for organizations that feed and cloth people
  • It’s Recycling!
  • It’s not contributing to the sweatshop industry
  • The Balance is that people need to work and somethings will need to be bought new, That’s where Justice Clothing comes in.

26:00 Why pay more Money for fair trade clothing?

  • Sustainable economies
  • Why Not to Contribute to Walmart (articles 1, 2)

29:45 An appeal to people of Faith

  • “Buying sweatshop stuff is against my religion”
  • “You know your buying stuff that is moral”

* Want to Read some more about this? Eric Suggests:

one I will point out is a magazine-size booklet published by the Progressive Jewish Alliance called “No Schvitz”– it’s a great primer on the history and current situation with sweatshops, with a focus on Jewish involvement (on all sides).

Documentary of Labor in a China Factory

Unfortunately, I feel it is necessary to start with a disclaimer about the video I am about to show you. This is not a video that will suddenly convince you to care about where what you buy is made. If your hoping to argue and be defensive about your purchases and consumerism, then you’ll probably have a fine time with this video. You’ll say the workers in the video complain too much, you’ll point out that it’s not much worse then plenty of USA working conditions, you’ll say at least they have a job and food, etc. And you’ll be right.
But, you’ll also find a time or two in this video that you’ll think to yourself about how frustrating it would be to be in their position. You’ll think for a moment about how some of that is not fair. I challenge you to hold on to those thoughts, and just ponder them for a little bit.

Please post your responses and thoughts below. And please refrain from arguementative words about what the video shows.

Real Estate with Ethics

I’ve continued to read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and it continues to put this driving question in my mind. How can we invest in Real Estate in a way that is ethical?
Currently though only thing I’ve come up with is to do Real Estate in rich areas where it’s not directly affecting the poor. As I said in a previous post, so many options of making money in Real Estate seem to be doing so at the expense and oppression of the poor.

So, here is the deal. I want to make a lot of money. I want to make money so that I don’t have to raise it, or break my back working for it; I want to have money so that I can do all the things I desire to do and not have to worry about it. The stock market sounds interesting to me as does Real Estate. Lucrative business ventures are great too, but here’s my catch. I want to invest in things and in ways that I believe are ethical.
I’ll try the real estate thing, but not if it means ripping off someone just because they are in a tight spot, and not if it means pushing the poor out of their neighborhood, and not if it means charging oppressive rent prices.
I’ll try the stock market, but I don’t want to invest in companies that run sweatshops. I don’t want to support companies that make their millions in alcohol, pornography or the slave trade. I want to make money helping the world become a better place.

Anyone know of any good places to go for that kind of financial advice? Because I haven’t a clue.

Is “Socially Responsible” catching on?

When you see the term on a McDonalds brochure you know something is up. I don’t frequent the golden arches much, but I was in there a couple weeks ago and I saw this brochure.
“We Share One Community: Socially Responsible Neighbors”
Brochure from McDonalds- We Share One Community

I’m not posting to bash on McD’s (that’s what you’d expect from me though isn’t it?). I think it’s great to see a company like this and others (Walmart, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, etc) put out Press Release and make statements in the direction of Social Responsibility. I applaud those efforts, but I want to caution us as well. I think we’ve seen countless times (look into statements from companies about stopping sweatshops) that just because they make a statement or give their word does not mean a change has happened. There are times when all we can do is take their word for it, but let’s also be all the more aware when the news reveals that they have not been keeping their commitments.
When Social Responsibility becomes the buzz word everyone will jump on board, at least in word, not necessarily in deed. You see being Social Responsibility cost your company money. Paying garment workers more cost more. Treating animals humanely cost more. All these things our money lost from the company and any good economist knows that money is the bottom line. Let’s just be aware.

On that note here is an exciting company, Maggie’s Organic that looks like they are doing things right. Watch the Video.

No sweat

After writing my post about shopping I realized it was important to promote to folks an alternative to the Walmart’s and other companies with inhumane practices that we learn about.

I present:

No Sweat Apparel.com

I’ve talked with the owner and he seems pretty cool.  I’m actually going to email him again and see if he would be interested in doing an interview with me that I could podcast.  Is there an interest in that?

I think I’m going to start a seperate page on the iamnotashamed.net site to serve as a store front for Fair Trade items, specifically clothing and other necessities.