Uncategorized

The Moments Leading Up to the Red X

Disclaimer: I use the term human trafficking and slavery interchangeable. Although they sound the same the main difference between the two are, human trafficking is the illegal act of using someone for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and/or forced labor. Slavery is the system as which someone is treated as the property of another person against their will. 

February 22nd, 2018 I drew a red X on my hand with a Striper. As I went about my day, only one person ask what the red X meant. This was my chance to tell someone about human trafficking and shine a light on modern-day slavery. If you notice a red X on someone’s hand, there was a high chance they were advocating for human trafficking.

Drawing a red X came from the End It Movement which is an organization that focuses on exposing human trafficking, modern-day slavery, and informing individuals this is still an issue we’re dealing with today. The red X is to promote the conversation piece but it’s obvious that the red X doesn’t end modern day slavery. The End It Movement wants to first bring the conservation of modern-day slavery to life and I do know that the organization does not want to end it there.

Many people show their support for issues by doing something simple like change a Facebook photo, post an article, wear a wristband, and in my case draw a red X on their hand. These things are not bad and I believe showing support is important but I also do know that a red X or wristband is not going to change an issue. I was aware of that as I was drawing the X on my hand.

I try to stay clear of the word “advocate”  because I do not want to be another person who cares but doesn’t do much about the issue. I’ve known about human trafficking since high school, I’ve known about other people trying to do something about it but I felt I wasn’t able to do much.

There were a few times in my college experience that human trafficking was a subject to discuss. One discussion that stood out to me was when the subject of sex trafficking came up, the two other people in the group I was in both said that trafficking is a subject they stay away from.  I understood the reasoning but also thought that it is an important subject to talk about.

Later that year, I got the chance to have some human trafficking training from a non-profit I volunteered with for a few years. It was an eye-opener and I was starting to see that anyone can do their part to help bring an end to human trafficking. That was also the year I participated in Dressember. Dressember is a month-long style challenge to bring advocacy to human trafficking and modern-day slavery by wearing a dress (or tie) for the month of December. The dress piece is to start the conversation and the hope is to raise money that goes to organizations that are aiding survivors of trafficking and trying to end it all together.

My first year doing Dressember, I was pretty quiet about it. I’m an introvert and finding a way to bring up a heated topic like modern-day slavery was not easy. I really only told two people when I think about it. The next year, I was able to bring up the conversation of trafficking after posting photos on social media. I also got a family member to donate to my Dressember page (thanks mom!!!). The following year I was able to talk about what Dressember was about and encouraged a couple of people to donate.

As I learned more about ethical living and the connections between modern-day slavery and our products, I realized that the issue of slavery was too clear to ignore. After reading Overrated: Are We More In Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing It? by Eugene Cho, one part of the book that stood out to me and I took away from was when the author said, “Never stop learning. Study the Bible. Read the news. Devour books. Engage people. Ask questions. Be a critical thinker and an active practitioner” (pg. 161). I read that part around the same time, Ashton Kutcher gave his 15-minute long speech about child sex trafficking and the organization he’s apart of to catch perpetrators. It was a hard speech to listen to but I knew it was needed.

It was one of the first times I felt heavy about the issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery and I was thankful to feel that heaviness. It meant I cared and I cared to learn about those issues. A few months later I got the chance to take another training in human trafficking and I was left feeling mad. I was mad about the lack of law enforcement handling human trafficking perpetrators and I wanted to do know what more can I do.

I know about organizations in my area that are fighting against human trafficking. I know I call my state senator about my care for the human trafficking. I know I can be more informed and have conversations about the issue of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. I know I can do more training and call the Human Trafficking Hotline when I notice the signs of a victim. I know I can donate to non-profits that are fighting against human trafficking. I also know I can support companies that employee survivors of human trafficking and give a portion of their profits to human trafficking organizations.

I’m already doing some of them and others I will admit to failing at. I have not called a senator and I do still shy from conservations with some individuals because it can be difficult. I’m finding out though, I don’t have to be scared to talk about human trafficking because it’s not an issue anyone has a gray area in. Human trafficking is bad and no one wants it to exist.  I’m discovering  ways to bring the issue up and ways to help fight against it. The red X is one of the many ways I hope to bring the issue to the table and hopefully help make other people realize they too can help bring hope and end human trafficking.

The End It Movement does not end with a red X.

Uncategorized

The Pace of Fashion

For the past year, I’ve discovered the term slow fashion and have been more active in promoting slow fashion. If you are reading this you may be asking “what is slow fashion?” You may have heard it but if not, let’s start with the opposite of slow fashion- fast fashion

What is Fast Fashion?

Fast fashion is a term that retailers use to explain how quickly fashion trends go from the catwalk to the racks. They focus on keeping clothing items trendy and are low in price. Think of stores like Forever21, H&M, Zara, and Target. Is fast fashion a bad thing?

Yes.

Although it is easy to fall for the pretty clothes and the low prices (I have fallen for it most of my adult, working life) the cost of trendy and cheap clothes is much greater than we think.

Laura McAndrew talks about four aspects of fast fashion in her interview on Adam Conover’s podcast series, Adam Ruins Everything (yes that is the same Adam from the TV show with the same name). The four aspects of fast fashion are cheap materials, the method and timeline are fast, the product is disposable, and clothing is trendy.

Here are the issues with these aspects:

  • The treatment of factory workers are not good
  • It plays an impact on the environment
  • We are left with clothes that are bad

Let me break down the four aspects in two parts

Cheap and Disposable  

Fast fashion is made of cheap materials, made from cheap machinery, the location of the factories are unsafe- therefore cheap, the wages of the factory workers are low, and in some cases, forced labor has been reported. McAndrew worked for Gap and it allowed her to see the clothing factories overseas and she did say that the company was looking for fabrics that were “lower/lowest quality fabric.”

McAndrew shared a story about how she visited one factory and ask where the bathroom was and a factory worker told her that it was “getting fixed.” McAndrew could tell it was a lie and said she never saw bathrooms in other factories. The cost of materials and location is not also poor but the wages these factory workers are earning is an average of $2 an hour. To earn enough money, many of the sweatshop workers put in long hours and most companies don’t provide benefits.  

Time and Trend

Because of the fast rate of trends coming in and out, there is a demand for factory workers to put in long hours and do it fast. Fashion used to have four seasons (autumn, winter, spring, and summer) and after every season, stores will receive new clothing items to match that season. There are now  11 to 15 seasons making the demand to produce more clothes to go up.

Companies are marketing clothes to catch the consumers eyes quickly. Consumers are drawn to the items and the hope is when the trend is over and the clothing item wears out, they will be caught in a trap of throwing away the item and getting a new one. This creates the cycle of buy, throw away, and buy more. This makes the factory workers put in the extra long hours for our demand to buy the latest trend.

The fast fashion model is pulling a toll on these factory workers and because of the low-quality material these articles of clothing are made out of, the environment suffers from discarded clothing items in the landfill as we the consumers go and buy more new trendy items.

This is where slow fashion comes to change the pace.

Slow fashion starts with the mindset of wanting to buy clothing that will last. We consider the material and think through if we’re going to wear that item for the long haul. We don’t always get what is trendy because you pick clothing pieces that are classy and will be stylish for many years.

Slow fashion recognizes the people behind the clothing. From the method of growing the materials to who ends up making the clothing. Slow fashion cares to use materials that are better for the environment. Some companies use organic cotton and others use recycled materials. The treatment of the employee and care for the environment is the most important value.

Ways to Participate.

Some ways you can start your slow fashion journey is to first study your closet. What clothes do you own that you wear and don’t wear? Donate those clothes you don’t wear to a local thrift store, swap with a friend or if you’re crafty, refashion those items! If you have any clothing items you wear, take care of it. Wear what you have first. If you feel you need a new item, buy from a local thrift store, or look for clothing companies that are fighting against fast fashion. You may have to spend extra but only buy the bare minimum and keep it. You may save money, in the long run, depending on how often you feel the need shop.

If you don’t have the option to buy secondhand or have the money to buy ethical clothing, try to find a clothing piece that you believe is better quality than the cheaper retailers and be mindful to buy it to last a while.

Lastly, we have a responsibility to keep companies accountable for the ethical practices. Gap has been called out since the 90’s and Nike is remembered for their lack ethical practices overseas.

We can not change fashion alone. We need companies to know we the consumers care who makes our products and we call those companies out andsupport other companies that are already practicing ethical principles. We must be mindful of our products, do research and care for our clothes. This is the start to change the way we do fashion.

Reference

11 Facts about Sweatshops- https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-sweatshops

Income in US dollar-http://www.theworldcounts.com/counters/modern_day_slavery_facts/sweatshops_condition

Why Fast Fashion Fails Us- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC3jVZneuns