Child Labour and The Fashion Industry

Are the clothes you are wearing being traced back to child labor? They may be. No voice. No choice. Did you know there are an estimated 260 million children in employment around the world when they should be in school? These children are technically too young to work, and are deprived of basic schooling just so they can become employed for a very low wage and terrible working conditions. The garment and textile industry alone employs around 170 million children in some of the poorest countries in the world just to keep up with the supply and demand the US, Europe, and other countries bring on. The fashion industry is both wasteful, and ever growing which makes these stats almost unbearable.

Did you know…..

Children are easier to employ for certain jobs like cotton picking because their little fingers don’t damage the crop. These poor kids are deprived of their childhoods, and their education to do a job meant for an adult. The child labor laws prohibit anything that will cause a child to jeopardize their health, well-being, and educational rights. [1] Child labor is illegal, but is still practiced in countries like India, China, Thailand, Egypt, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. [2]

Yard spinning, cotton picking, assembling garments in factories, and cotton harvesting are all jobs children are forced into working in these different countries. The conditions are treacherous, the pay is extremely low (if there is any), and they hardly get food to eat while working 12 hour days. Many times it is believed that children are easier to manage because they cannot ask for pay raises, and essentially come with no voice. All the meanwhile, they are being exposed to toxic and dangerous pesticides and chemicals from the factories and fields they are working. It makes me sick.

All For What?

There are many large companies worldwide today that take advantage of child labor due to the cheap cost of clothing and materials. Stores like H&M, Forever 21, Walmart, and Victoria Secret are among some of the names who are taking advantage of the good prices and thus supporting child labor. [3] While it is impossible to stop this entirely by writing an article, it is important to shed light on it to make people more aware of this horrible problem.

Being mindful of where you buy your clothing is important because what you buy, is essentially what you support whether you mean to or not. Boycotting certain companies that are doing nothing to stop child labor might just be the ticket to reducing the alarming numbers around the world. They are quite simply unethical. If demand drops, so will the supply and the little hands that cause the supply. While this may be hard to do, small steps matter!

This Does Not Mean…..

Chores are bad for children! It is only bad if it is jeopardizing their health and wellbeing, or if they are asked to do tasks above their skill level that an adult should be doing. Getting a child to pick up the slack around the home or property is not the same as sending them to a sweatshop for 12 hours a day instead of going to school. Child Labor only exists because it is easy to slip under the radar in countries that have a enormous populations with little regulation.

Shame on the large retail companies for taking advantage of the corruption in other countries, all to make a dime. This is purely wrong, and small little innocent lives are paying the ultimate price because of it. Sadly it is harder than ever to avoid purchasing sweatshop labor clothing, because they are everywhere! Doing small amounts of research will help you to avoid it at least a little. Every avoidance matters, and it could help in effort to save even one small life from sweatshop labor.

Who To Support?

With all of the confusion out there about who uses sweatshops and who doesn’t, there are some awesome reputable companies to support. Made in the USA is always a safe bet too. Take a look at some companies to support, and be mindful that this list just scratches the surface.

  • SproutFit Baby Clothing
  • Patagonia
  • American Apparel
  • Everlane
  • New Balance
  • LL Bean
  • Lush Cosmetics
  • Modcloth
  • The Reformation
  • People Tree [4]

Do you have any other companies to add? Shed light on them and comment below!



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