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3 Simple Ways to Check the Ethics of Your Wardrobe

April 30, 2018

3 Simple Ways to Check the Ethics of Your Wardrobe

Today, there is an epidemic of human trafficking the world over. It is estimated that there are 21 million labor trafficking victims globally, according to this article by the International Labour Organization. A large portion of the individuals who are being trafficked are forced to work in textile and clothing factories for no pay, little food, and inadequate shelter. In addition to their awful and, often times, dangerous working conditions, labor trafficking victims are often subjected to mental, physical, and emotional abuse. While you may not be part of one of the many organizations who are working to stop this awful practice directly, you can still take action by purchasing responsibly sourced garments for both yourself and your family.

Here's some simple ways to make sure your dollars aren't supporting human trafficking:

  • Support Small Businesses – Supporting small businesses instead of purchasing from big box brands is a great way to support local economies and keep your wardrobe ethical. Small business owners and operators are often much closer to their products than CEOs of big clothing corporations. As a result, the small business decision makers can more effectively evaluate the sources that his or her company is using to produce their clothing products. Although not all small business owners prioritize ethically sourcing, many do and advertise the fact prominently.
  • Use Your Smart Phone - There are tons of great apps out there for conscientious purchasers of all kinds. Whether you're looking for vegan ice cream, cruelty free laundry detergent, or a responsibly sourced sweater, there's an app for you. You can find a fairly comprehensive list of innovative apps for responsible sourcing here. However, a few of our favorites are Social Impact which uses your phone's GPS to point you in the direction of responsible businesses in your vicinity and Free2Work which lets you see instantly how products and brands are associated with forced labor. Free2Work even provides a trafficking scale from A to F for businesses.
  • Always Read the Label - This one is pretty straightforward. Look for the country of origin on the label before purchasing any piece of clothing. Weeding out clothes that were produce in low cost countries is a great way to avoid purchasing a piece of clothing that was produced by a forced laborer. In fact, you can check out this list by USA Today of the "Countries with the most enslaved people". If your shirt's label says it was made in one of the countries on that list, then chances are it is not ethically sourced.

Human trafficking is an atrocious practice. Unfortunately, the end of forced labor is a long way off. However, we can use our dollars to put those companies who use forced labor out of business much faster through ethical sourcing. So, remember to support responsible small businesses like Max & Ola that make ethical sourcing a priority, download an app to help you pick humane products, and don't forget to read the label! Together, we can make the world a better place!

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