It all started during the Lent of 2004. I was doing my year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, a year that has tremendously shaped me into who I am today. Living in community with 5 other people (including my husband whom I had just married 3 weeks before beginning the year commitment), we attended many local events together. During this Lenten season, we attended a weekly event called "Soup and Spirituality" and it was during our discussion on textiles and social justice that my world was rocked. I had NO clue that corporations were making unethical choices in order to maximize their profits. They were exploiting their workers and the land. Discrimination, child labor, extreme pollution, and unsafe working conditions are just a few to name. If you are ready to find out the truth out there and want to see what the brands you are supporting are doing behind the scenes, you can go to the source I use: http://www.greenamerica.org/programs/responsibleshopper/learn_hub.cfm
This organization investigates companies beyond the textile industy and includes major corporations all around the world. It also gives you the opportunity to stand up against these organizations, if you want to do something about the information you learn.
As you might guess, I have switched which brands and stores I support. In addition to that, I have come to recognize that there are many companies in which I have not learn about. Because of that, I try to avoid wearing clothes or accessories that have their logo on the outside. If I'm given some clothes with labels like "Nike" or "Old Navy" on them for the kids, I just pass them along to someone else. I even struggle with characters on it, like ones from Disney. They are decent clothes but I don't want my kids (nor myself) to be a walking advertisement for them.
Plus, I don't want to get sucked into the social status affiliated with certain brands. I'm not interested in carrying around a purse that is hundreds or thousands of dollars. To me, it's a purse for a specific function. And by promoting their brand, it might make someone else around me feel uncomfortable if they can't afford that purse. It's just not who I am. My style is a purse from Ten Thousand Villages, a local sewer, or one someone made me as a gift.
All our individual purchases are a vote in support of a company and the choices they make. If we are more conscious of what our purchases are supporting, we can encourage positive change in companies.
If you followed the link above and looked up a particular company, which ones did you look up? Were you surprised?
Jen Starks, Owner