The Cost of Your Next Shopping Spree

By Abi Parameswaran

Sweatshop labour, something all may have supported in society at some point; two wards that continue to manifest its way throughout humanity. The daily cycle of students in this country primarily consists of waking up, brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, going to school, getting an education, considerably a normality in the Forest Hill community. This is not the case for many kids in other parts of the world. Many are forced into the physical labour industries as young as ten years old.

Stores like H&M, Joe Fresh, Forever 21, Aldo and many other clothing and accessory companies are culprits of this form of labour. People often work in dangerous, unsanitary locations for long periods of time, with unlivable wages to provide for their families. Many are unaware of these things and often when issues come up relating to this it is often hidden quickly or forgotten about.

Imagine coming home one day to find out that you would never be able to go back to school again; even worse you would be forced to work in an environment without windows, in large unstable buildings, or in polluted small confined spaces. However, realistically this is not imaginable since most of us live in conditions far from this and instead wear clothing that is formed at these types of factories. 

Many of the working conditions of these sweatshop factories are indeed brutal and workers that already live in financial and physical catastrophes tolerate these issues to scrape together less than a sufficient amount to raise a family. One of the most talked about incidents relating to sweatshop labour facilities is the Joe Fresh factory that collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013. Over thousands were injured and more than 250 were killed. This incident brought to life the real issues that surrounded sweatshop labours and after this incident, many companies promised to improve the working conditions and wages of workers in these factories. Most developed societies believed this blindly and many forgot about these incidents. Even though the evidence of change may have been present, it is far from being sufficient.

Still, many companies do not have functioning fire exits or safety precautions set in order, many companies still employ children at fourteen in working conditions that are unsafe. However, this factor does not change much for workers as they will work for as long as they can put food on the table and still face the risk of dying every day on the job. Thinking of the way that most of our clothing is sourced 


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This is one of many imaged depicting the rubble created by the collapse of this factory

Making the big switch from shopping at stores that condone sweatshop labour to stores that enforce actual rules and laws in their factories are very hard. It is not always easy or affordable for many since many continue to live in different financial conditions. Change can be made; understanding the concept of sweatshop labour and knowing which stores do endorse this form of labour is indeed helpful. Perhaps the next time anyone decides to go on a shopping spree consider buying less from stores that endorse this and make small changes in their lifestyle.

Talking about this issue will change the way many see this and will promote people to think more about where their clothes come from and the reason why clothing tends to be affordable. Ignorance is often the reason why many are blinded to the many issues related to sweatshop labour and their affiliation with it. Perhaps learn about companies such as Lush, American Apparel, People Tree, Modcloth and many other on the list who either contribute less to this cause or make all their products within the country.

Coming to terms with the issue and talking about this can potentially change one’s life since corporations do catch on to number and once they see a drop with sales due to customers knowledge of a corporation’s actions they are compelled to create change! Perhaps a slow transition into shopping non-sweatshop labour by buying or supporting one initiative that sources products appropriately can be a start.

The idea of creating change starts in the hands of the consumer since they have the most power in the livelihood of billion dollar corporations and the billions of people that live by such companies all across the globe. Forest Hill change starts small and through the hands of the people. 

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