Have you ever just stopped and thought about the ramifications of buying things?
Most people I know haven’t. The only thing they’ll stop to think about is maybe choosing something with the label “MADE IN THE USA” over something that is made in a foreign country. People don’t stop to think about the cute $5 t-shirt from H&M or Forever 21 beyond how much they adore it, or how much they hate it. Either way, people buying fast fashion brands don’t stop and think about how their shirt could have been made in a sweatshop in Cambodia where people were killed over asking for a salary that was less than $2000 a year.
Is it even that much of a surprise that there are people working in sweatshops anymore? Everyone knows that the Chinese factory workers putting together iPhones aren’t treated fairly. Everyone can assume when they see a tag on their clothing saying “Made in Thailand” or “Made in China” that the workers aren’t getting the best life. But what exactly is happening to them? What exactly is a sweatshop?
As defined by Do Something, a global activism company, sweatshops are places where the factory has violated two or more labor laws. These laws could be anything from child labor laws to working condition laws to docking pay for no good reason. Companies like Walmart and H&M use sweatshops because sweatshops produce a lot of clothing for cheap. People all around the world are being paid anywhere from $1 to $3 a day for a 9-to-twelve-hour workday.
Now before you get all up in arms and angry about the pay, remember that we aren’t the ones working the jobs. We, as Americans, have to recognize our privilege in having better options. For the majority of these people, there are only worse options. They could be working in the local mines, or on a poor farm, or, worst of all, not at all.
An article from the New York Times covered this topic really well. It interviewed the family of a 15-year-old factory worker whose father was proud of her. He said it was good money, and that he was worried about the factory closing down. This is what we have to conceder before the world takes action. We have to stop and think about the people actually affected, the workers.
By Kate Sahagian