As we march farther and farther into the holiday and Christmas season, it can be rather easy for us to get swept up in all the big, shiny, mass-produced products to purchase as gifts. It’s easy to find the most marketed items, the cheapest clothing, the newest electronics. It can even be fun, hunting for the perfect gift in the depths of the biggest shopping centres.
This year, however, we at The Freedom Hub challenge you to really think about the companies that are being supported through these purchases.
Ask yourself, who made this product? Were they compensated enough for their labour? Are they being treated fairly in their work environment? Do they have the ability to leave the industry if they wanted to?
Forced labour is one of the most common forms of modern slavery to date, where victims, who are mostly women often face starvation, abuse and harassment. They often lack of autonomy as they are forced to continue working, with no say over decisions of their own labour.
Yes, it is a huge challenge to stop supporting large and popular companies that have reported forms of modern slavery in their industry process. However, finding ways to avoid their products will help to stop their economic prosperity. This will hopefully, one day, eliminate the chain of forced labour and slavery in businesses.
In the meantime, here are a few methods and ways you can contribute to a much more ethical consumer lifestyle!
Ethical Shopping Guides
Here are some must-have apps and guides to read for products that are high risk for slavery. These guides are designed to help consumers shop ethically. However, it is important to note that not all guides agree or have the same methodology. But as ‘guides’ they will just help you think through where you want to spend your money.
Good On You App – Download this app to help you while out and about clothes shopping. You can search by store or by brand and get a grading as to whether you should support the company with your $$$. Thousands of brand ratings, articles and expertise on ethical and sustainable
fashion. Know the impact of brands on people and the planet. Let’s be more lured by ethical values rather than the items in the window display!
Oxfam Company Tracker – An online list of some of the biggest companies in Australia to show if their businesses are being fair to their workers.
Good Fish Guide – An Australian seafood and seafood restaurant guide that focuses mainly on sustainability.
Be Slavery Free Seafood Guide – This is a very quick read educating you on why and how to be careful.
The Freedom Hub – We also have a quick blog to read about how to have ethical fish for dinner!
GENERAL ETHICAL GUIDES:
The Good Shopping Guide – This covers just about everything. Energy, Money, Fashion, Food & Bev, Technology, Health & Beauty
Ethical Shopping Guide – Another thorough guide with an app that covers all areas. We usually always start here when we are deciding on brands we are going to range in our Freedom Hub Cafes. This guide grades from A – F and assesses both human and environmental impact.
The Honest Consumer – This is a more general list of socially responsible brands that give back and are sustainable and ethical. This allows you to easily shop with your values. This app is not focused on slavery or forced labour, but its’ layout is easy to use. This app encourages us to support companies that are at least trying to make a difference and well worth supporting.
Change the World by How you Shop – This is a US based guide, but it also has a master list of guides for if you want to sit and study your shopping habits and brands, grab a cuppa, and read away.
Ethical Market Places
Finding ethical stores can also be a bit tricky. Our advice is to look for Fair Trade stores or Oxfam stores, and don’t forget to think about repurposing and vintage shopping!
As consumers, we have a large responsibility to pressure fashion companies for transparency of where and how their products are made. Fashion is a very labour-intensive industry. And modern slavery in fashion can appear in a variety of forms. This includes harvesting cotton for a t-shirt, sewing the garment, and even modelling the final product.
You can see our tips for building a more ethical wardrobe here.
The fashion industry, particularly fast fashion, has long been a culprit of modern slavery. Because of increasing demands for low prices and continual new products, many fashion brands rely on overseas factories to produce their garments for low costs. This hazy, global supply chain creates a lack of transparency and encourages unregulated working conditions. As multinational companies rely on off-shore production, they often do not have control over their supply chains. In these conditions, forced labour or illegally low wages often occur. And in these factories, workers may be subject to unsafe facilities and illegal work practises. The infamous collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh alerted the world to these horrific conditions. Still, we are unable to know where our clothes are truly coming from.
The #whomademyclothes movement was sparked after the collapse of Rana Plaza and calls for a safer, fairer and more transparent fashion industry. The movement calls upon every consumer to contact fashion brands directly and ask the simple question of who made their clothes.
This is a simple yet powerful campaign to drive change in the industry.
Written by: Charlene Moraleda
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