People hear “fair trade” and they automatically associate it with food. However, fair trade takes on other forms as well. Fair trade has become much more of a topic of concern in the clothing industry.
In light of 2013-factory crash in Bangladesh, fair trade activist have fought to help people understand the source of where clothing is being processed.
Imagine having to go to work, miles away from home in a building with cracked walls and ceilings. Often times, workers go into the factory not knowing whether they will be working in the building or underneath.
The New York Times made coverage of the crash reporting that 5,000 garment factories house 3.2 million workers. 1,129 lives were cut short that day. These factories have less than good working conditions for the workers.
Times disclosed that Rana Plaza violated codes and there were four upper floors that were constructed illegally. But for consumers that’s okay as long as our products are being made.
The plaza in Bangladesh is responsible for making clothing for many European and American consumers. “The workers are ordered to work despite the harsh working conditions,” Julfikar Ali Manik, writer for the New York Times, said. If they decide not to show up they lose their jobs.
Real power lies in the Western countries. Carelessly American citizens spend thinking that somewhere they are helping someone’s life. In reality they are doing more harm than good. Rana Plaza, along with other factories, are the suppliers of popular stores such as, but not limited to, Gap, H&M, Inditex, and Walmart.
Though Walmart issued a statement making claims they would make improvements, they receive a low grade on the grading scale for fair trade clothing.
Though Walmart failed, H&M jump-started plans that would help give fair wages to workers by the year 2018.
Though it is progress, it is a slow start for H&M to help fix the changes and conditions in Bangladesh. Just three years prior to the crash, there was a factory fire of H&M workers.
Fair trade is a way for all citizens to get involved and stand their ground towards companies they frequent. If customer care is their top priority it has to begin with its workers. There are many fair trade clothing companies such as Good and Fair, Hae Now, Eco Star and many more. They make sure consumers and workers are getting the type of service that they want, need and deserve.