My work gave us these equality bags to help promote equal access to quality education for all. I appreciate the sentiment, and was using my bag with pride. Of course I believe in equal rights and that zip code should not determine the kind of education you receive.
Of course I believe in equality.
I just finished watching a documentary about clothing and fast fashion called "The True Cost," which illuminated some of what I already know to be true in the fashion industry, and opened my eyes to many other aspects of the industry that are quietly swept under the rug as we search for deals on the racks. My undergraduate studies were in textiles, but I knew enough not to work in an industry which supports slave labor and sweatshops. But sadly, like most American shoppers, only knew part of the story and acted accordingly.
After viewing the movie I almost immediately looked to the inside of my bag to the tag, "100% cotton, made in India." No other information is given of course. How were the workers treated? Where is the cotton sourced? How much are the workers paid to make these bags? What does it look like in the factories in which these bags are made?
My heart sank as I thought back to the working conditions I saw in the film.
I have to ask now, how the silkscreened word "equality" on this bag actually promotes equality? This bag is most likely sewn and produced by female workers who are paid minimum wage, how does that promote quality? Many factory workers are forced to chose between the education of their children and their low paying factory job, how does this promote equality at all?
Whose equality is it?
The message, which I truly believe in, is that we do not want zip code to determine opportunity. This needs to expand outside of New York City, it needs to expand globally.
IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO promote thE ideaL of equality, while directly supporting the inequality of others.
As I continue to educate myself around fair trade, sustainable companies which support worker's rights, I will post my findings here.
For further reading/information about the documentary click here.