by Sarah Farver (Communications)
Do you ever feel haunted by the decisions you make? Sometimes when I pick up a blouse at a retail store and take it home, there is a nagging feeling that shouldn’t have bought it. One thing that I have grappled over for the past year or so has been what the story is behind the clothes I wear. That may sound odd, but wondering whose hands made it is something that recently hit me like a punch in the gut.
Typically one night a week my husband and I go to spend time with refugees by helping them with English, tutoring their kids, filling out forms, whatever the need is. One precious family we gotten to know is from Burma and were actually from a people group of persecuted Christians. When they escaped and went into another country the family was living in a tent in the jungle and the children had to work in factories sewing clothes all day every day. It was a matter of survival for them. Hearing their story made me realize cheap goods have a high price. If I don’t know where my clothes come from, they very well could be made by children like these precious kids we tutor.
If you Google any country’s minimum wage, you’ll see why American companies have their goods made overseas. Bangladesh pays workers about $1 hour and most other countries pay $1-2.50 per hour while China doesn’t even have a minimum wage. The fact that those people who are making our clothes are human beings made in the image of God made me want to take some steps to change the way I think about where I get things.
What can we do about it? Does it make a difference?
Of course it does. The more we feed that market, the stronger it becomes. We can reduce the demand for it.
You can RESEARCH stores. Saddleback Leather Co. goes to great lengths to take good care of anyone who works for them. Their factory in Mexico is one of the finest anywhere, offering great benefits, including even private education for the children of employees there. Find other brands that are transparent with where their items are made. There are some books on the subject, like Follow Free2Work and GoodGuide on social media. It lets you know the track record for working conditions for a lot of brands. Take note, some of your favorite, higher priced name brands were the worst on this list!
Buy less. If you buy quality goods, you don’t have to buy things nearly as often.