If you follow me on Pinterest, then you've probably noticed my recent social responsibility craze.
In a previous post, I mentioned that I want to be more intentional in my purchases by supporting retailers who operate ethically, especially when it comes to human rights. I definitely appreciate that the factories producing our clothing are providing jobs to those who really need them; the issue I have is with the horrible working conditions, human trafficking, and slavery within the industry.
I have no crazy notions of single-handedly ending this injustice, and my abstinence on its own is not going to make much of a dent in the system. But it's a start, albeit a small one.
I started by doing a little digging and contacting some of the retailers that I frequent. After hours of research, I almost feel like I know less than I did before. I have more questions than answers:
- How much do retailers actually know about their vendors and manufacturers? How much can we feasibly expect them to know considering that some of them sell thousands of different brands?
- What actions are actually being taken? Many retailers claim that they are improving working conditions in their factories, but their social responsibility plans are vague at best and there are no measurable improvements to be seen.
- With the complexity of many supply chains, how can we as consumers educate ourselves on where our clothes are really coming from?
- With some articles praising retailers for ethical operations and other articles listing the unethical practices of the same retailers, how do we know which companies are truly operating ethically?
The principles that this list is founded on are principles that I want to hold fast to, but the list itself may evolve over time. I'm not entirely sure if this is the best way for me to act on the knowledge I've obtained. How do we react when we see such terrible things happening? What is the appropriate response? It's in moments like this that I find myself desperately praying for wisdom.
I am so darn frustrated by the lack of transparency in the industry. The world shouldn't be like this, but it is.
It's a mess. I'm a mess. Trying to make concrete decisions in such a gray area has been pretty stressful, and if I'm honest, the selfish part of me is actually feeling a bit sorry for myself. I didn't really go into this expecting to be convicted of my own selfishness, but hey, God works in mysterious ways.
I've had to accept that I'm not going to be perfect at this. I can't afford fair trade goods all of the time, and even fair trade is a controversial topic! There is no clarity in this process, but drawing from what I've learned, here is what I'm currently planning to do:
Ok, enough of me talking. What do you think? How can we as consumers best approach the unethical practices of the fashion industry?
Thank you for reading!
Labels: fashion, fashion ethics