472: Fair trade clothing

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Most people do not consider clothing when they think about fair trade: they think instead of diamonds or of coffee. Not everyone drinks coffee or can afford to buy diamonds. However, every human on the planet wears clothing of some sort. Therefore, the issue of fair trade in the manufacture of clothing items is a far larger issue than fair trade with either coffee or diamonds.

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Fair trade refers to the ethical and humane treatment of the people (and other living creatures, such as sheep) who all participate in the production of clothing from fiber origin to the ultimate consumer. This includes the farmers who grow organic fibers, the miners who produce the raw materials which are used to manufacture inorganic, or synthetic fibers, the workers engaged in the production of yarns, those who weave or knit the fabric in factories or in collage industries, those who cut and sew the clothing items, those who dye, embellish or otherwise enhance the finished garments, inspectors who ensure quality, and transportation workers who move the finished products to market – not to mention the people involved in the marketing and sales of the finished clothing. Many people are employed in the creation of clothing, and all of them deserve to be treated ethically, without exploitation of their labor.

The primary role of enforcing fair trade ethics in the clothing manufacturing industry world-wide lies with the various governments that oversee the countries where garment manufacture takes place. There are still countries in the world where laws that restrict child labor, or forced labor do not exist.

CNN (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/15/world/child-labor-index-2014/) reported the to 10 countries for the worst child labor abuses as the following:

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It should be clear that this is a prevalent problem in developing nations, but it should be noted that even so-called advanced countries are not immune from child labor abuses. So-called sweat shops don’t only employ children. Often adults who are desperately in need of employment work under inhuman conditions. The owners of such factories are able to exploit their workers’ need for a job, any job.

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Fair trade clothing is produced using a supply chain from origin to consumer that is guaranteed legal and ethical, with fair practices employed in the treatment of all the humans and animals involved. Consumers who choose to purchase only clothing articles identified as fair trade are choosing not to financially support the exploitation of people and animals.

 

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