We need to start humanising the efforts and hard work behind every single garment. Fairtrade is not just for coffee, tea or chocolate; it can apply to any business. But why the fashion industry doesn’t apply to fair trade, the biggest and toughest sector in the world?
Garments are not born in the stores. On a garment fabric, there are a lot of machines, but every single one needs a talented human to operate it. We need to realise this and to stop dehumanising these fabrics.
If we ever visited a garment factory in an underdeveloped country, we would probably surprised (and embarrassed) by the conditions under workers live for us to get a piece of clothing. It really would change the vision people have about clothing and how people are affected in the process.
Inadequate treatment of the workers, the low wages, unsafe workplaces and the pollution of the environment around these factories are just some of the consequences of not fair trade. The lack of transparency and accessibility in the garment industry is only an inherent part of the process, and it seems we don’t want to look at its reality.
People in underdeveloped countries need to be acknowledged and respected for their skills and their work and give them an opportunity to live a good life.
Producing clothing under the fair trade standards is the first step that tells you are aware that behind the production are people working. Fairtrade is the first phase of a very long journey.
Fairtrade considers people and the environment. Fairtrade products will help not just one person, but more likely you will be supporting at least a family or an entire community.
When you buy a premium fair trade product (for example, Patagonia), the extra amount you pay will go to the workers directly. Or they can decide instead this amount to be a bonus or to reinvest it in community services: a childcare centre where kids can stay while parents are working. Other options could be clean the forest, or maybe to receive more education.
Invisible dividends from fair trade in fashion
But there’s not just a financial improvement what the workers will benefit from. There are worker councils and regular meetings that are held that gives them to the opportunity to take a stand and find their voice, to become architects of their lives.
It helps workers to become leaders, to express themselves, to have an opinion, to be able to be part of the process not just by sewing the clothing. Doing fair trade clothing makes workers feel valued for the job they are doing.
But it will not scale if it is a philosophical or philanthropic option. We have to prove that fair trade is good for business.
“Fair trade is a clear step forward in bettering the system – because when we know better, we do better” Dave Rastovich – Patagonia employee and ambassador.
The fashion industry is broken, and fair trade gives an opportunity to provide a more positive way of living for a lot of people around the world.
If you want to learn more about what is happening in the fast fashion industry, make sure you read this article!
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