Friday, April 26, 2013

Sweatshop Disasters

Fashion -what you see is only the tip of a vast machine!

The recent tragedy in Bangladesh reminds me of another sweatshop disaster.

The one I am referencing was in New York City, 1911 and claimed the lives of 146 women. That Triangle Shirtwaist fire was so horrifying to the people of the city that they demanded changes in regulations and policies.

Three months after the fire, Governor John A. Dix signed a law creating the Factory Investigating Commission. Following the findings of the commission, the New York State Legislature enacted 36 statutes to regulate workplace fire safety and ventilation, and to set minimum standards for working women and children.”

( Cooper, C, Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, 100 Years Later)  

This helped the Unions gather the strength they needed to push for fair wages and decent working conditions.

Like the garment workers in Bangladesh, the women were locked into the building with little heed paid to their well being as whole human beings.

Back to NYC back in the day- workers were considered  by some people as "things" to be used and tossed aside when their usefulness was over.  As many of the women were immigrants (insourced workers)  this parallels outsource capitalism in a weird way.

Cheap transportation (subsidized oil) allows stuff to be shipped to consumers at rates that undermine local goods and labor. This is a matter of relativity that the Free Trade dogma ignores in pursuit of market advantage. Considered "good for the economy" aka good for the people who take 'advantage" of  the resources around them while giving back as little as possible; it in fact depletes the economic "soil" similar to the chem subsidy our food crops have endured. And like the story of the food crops, depleted soils become dead soils aka deserts.

So outsource is akin to the tactics employed by the Industrialists as they "designed" immigration policy. But now instead of importing labor, companies can just import the products. This minimizes their responsibility for the conditions that the worker's endure and many other possible risks and problems..

However the backbone of this story that revolves around wealth, power, entitlement and dominion over others includes the right to lord it over the Earth, animals and plants as well. This story is older than nations and yet it continues..

So despite it's age, the story is still honed, redressed and passed forward. It continues to protect hierarchy and reward wealth as it's own raison d'etre. It isn't.

 Stopping abuse in sweatshops is just one facet of this many layered mess. However it is something we can take on.

.Stop buying clothing unless it is totally needed. Ask stores where the Fair Trade goods are kept. Ask who and how the items were made. Try to discuss product lifecycles.

You will be cajoled, laughed at, ignored or you just might strike up a conversation that will make your day.

I know this. I do it and have seen more good energy than else , so I recommend this action.

Want more: See if there is a sewing group in your area or start one. Discuss cool things to make out of other things that are no longer useful. Search the refashion and recycouture blogs and websites for ideas, inspiration.  Practice what you believe.

As for Bangladesh, my heart goes out to all those who are suffering, all those who have been harmed by product madness. I am sending out healing energy thoughts, sending out love.

So now I wonder, if this time, as in after the Triangle Fire, policies and regulations will be changed to support the human beings who trade their time and energy in hope of fair and adequate compensation. I hope that this time we will turn from the pushy profiteering model and design an economic platform that honors life.

I wonder if this time we will start the evolution towards a super conscious reality. I wonder and I am believing we will. So get out there and make some righteous noise!!

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