Monday, September 5, 2011

Choosing to be informed

Hopefully you've been enjoying a relaxing and restorative day off this Labor Day holiday. I know I often get so wrapped up in plans for the day that I forget to spend time reflecting on what the original purpose of the holiday actually was! 

So, I thought I'd take a moment to share a few thoughts here... 

A lot has changed in this country since Labor Day was created 1882. Sweatshops and child labor are no longer acceptable here. Sadly, that is not the case around the globe as discount retailers compete on price for your dollars. I've been guilty of  squealing gleefully when I find a cute top at a ridiculously low price. And something in the back of my mind always wonders, "how do they make this so cheaply?". The next time you find yourself wondering that, remember that the answer is likely that people (often women and children) in a developing country are being exploited so we can have our fashion fix.

So, what to do? Well, we can all try to be better informed. Ask questions, look online. Think about the purchases you are making.  Labour Behind the Label is a U.K.-based initiative to raise awareness about brands that are taking steps in the right direction, and those that aren't. As an example, Gap is making strides, Levi Strauss not at all. Knowing this I am much more likely to shop at Gap in the future. Remember, your pocketbook votes count a LOT!

Let's also take a moment to think about the poor workers who find themselves in the awful situation of having no alternative but to work in a slaughterhouse.  These workers are extremely poor and uneducated and without other economic options. Turnover in slaughterhouses is 100% per year.  One hundred percent. Everyone. No one can stand doing this type of cruel and violent work - even though they desperately need the money. And it should be no surprise that spousal and child abuse rates are much higher in the homes of these workers.  It's not just the animals who suffer in our meat-obsessed culture...people do as well. Another reason to cut back or eliminate the meat in your diet!

So, if you've read this far - thank you! I know it's not fun to think about these issues. It can be overwhelming and really depressing. Just remember, that each of us is voting every time we make a purchase - whether it be clothing or food or anything!  I don't think we should worry as much about being perfect (that's a high bar!) as trying to do better, every day. 

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