How much does your t-shirt cost?

They’re lucky to have jobs.

This is what employers said about indentured servants in the 18th century.

It’s what Robber Barons said about young children and poor people during the Industrial Revolution.

It’s also what people have been saying for years to justify sweatshops.

But the economy will crash.

This is what plantation owners said when abolitionism was first suggested.

It’s what people say now to argue for the mindless consumption of goods to support capitalism.


There is always an economic argument for abusing poor people. But every advancement in humanity and civility took place because people put their values before their bank accounts. Imagine what it would be like to work in the United States if we didn’t have the labor movement, or if slavery still existed. Our lives would be a lot like sweatshop workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia.

I recently watched a documentary that made it clear how unchecked capitalism, spiritual emptiness, corporate greed, climate change, workers rights, and globalism can all be wrapped up in the story of a t-shirt.

I urge you to watch The True Cost and tell me what you think about it. It’s available on Netflix or you can rent it through their website. I’m ready to stop being an ignorant shopper. I’m ready to quit thinking about the money I’m saving at the expense of others. I’m ready to account fo the true cost. Are you?

trash dump

One of the costs of disposable clothing: landfills of last month’s fashion.

sweatshop

One of the costs of disposable clothing: women living their lives in factories, working 70 hours a week and still unable to provide for their children.

2 comments

  1. The price of a t-shirt doesn’t necessarily reflect the abuse of workers. You could pay $5 or $10 for a t-shirt, but it doesn’t follow that workers are treated any better in either scenario. What’s needed is for companies to agree not to outsource jobs where workers can’t make a decent living and where the environment isn’t protected by the country in which the manufacturing takes place.

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  2. Lot’s of companies do this already and label their merchandise “fair trade”, but most consumers don’t really care – they go for the cheaper, trendier goods. What really needs to happen is a consumer mind shift. People that are shopping at H&M, Forever 21, Old Navy, Zara, etc. need to demand that those companies take a bite out of their profit to encourage fair work practices or else they won’t continue shopping there. It needs to happen on a much bigger level.

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