I came across Kelsey Timmerman’s book, “Where am I wearing”, in our local library. He is a journalist and blogger who decided to visit the 5 countries and factories where his favorite items of clothing were made and to meet the workers. What make this book different than “The travels of a t-shirt in a global economy” are the stories where he spends time with the people who make his (and our) clothes and tell us about their lives, personalities, hopes, and dreams.
Kelsey shows us that sometimes a job can lift you out of poverty and give you a chance at a different life. But he also made me wonder weather a job where you have no rights, no contract, no time off, no health care, is really a good thing?
I think (a lot!) about where I source the blank MotherTongues t-shirts from. About 5 years ago I made the decision that I can’t print words about social justice, peace, non violence and the environment, on “sweatshop” t-shirts. So after many hours of searching for an alternative, I started printing on clothing from HaeNow, Econscious, and Maggie’s Organics: all organic cotton, fair labor clothing.
Recently, after I’ve been waiting for it for a long time, Fair Trade USA (formerly TransFair USA) started Fair Trade Certified labeled clothing. It is the same logo you’re accustomed to see on your Fair Trade coffee, tea, sugar – you can see the apparel brands who already have the certification here: http://fairtradeusa.org/products-partners/apparel-linens.
Since I don’t have the resources to visit the factories myself, I’m putting my faith in the Fair Trade and fair labor system. And counting on people like Kelsey Timmerman to check up on the factories for us 🙂 If you want to “meet” some people who are making your clothes, read his book – you’ll never look at your clothing’s tags in the same way again!