4 Powerful Ways to Fight Sweatshops

Recently, Zara workers in Turkey sewed calls for help into the pockets of garments. It’s just the latest sweatshop story that can leave people feeling helpless. In truth, we have a lot of power to fight sweatshops and stand up for garment workers. Here are 4 ideas to help make a difference that you can do today!

1. Ask Brands, #WhoMadeMyClothes?

Fashion Revolution is a global activist organization calling for a more transparent and fair fashion industry. There are so many ways to get involved (the website is packed with resources), but one of the easiest actions is to post a picture of the label in your clothes on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and ask the brand you’re wearing #whomademyclothes. Look up the hashtag to get inspiration. To date, millions of citizens have participated and thousands of brands have responded.

2. Check Online Brand Rankings Before Shopping

Before you shop, check online to see if the brands you love have strong commitments to worker rights. Good On You is an app and website that provides rankings of most major brands, as well as ethical and sustainable alternatives. If a brand you like isn’t listed, you can suggest them to be rated. Rank a Brand is another great online resource that gives brands an A through F rating based on sustainable and ethical criteria. if you want to do a little more work and read the fine print, the Fashion Revolution Transparency Index rates brands on their disclosure on important issues related to worker’s rights. If you find that your preferred brand falls short, consider switching to a company with a better score. Or drop the brand a letter or a Tweet and tell them you want to see a better performance.

3. Join An Organization

Maybe joining a protest isn’t your thing, but you can support garment workers from home as well by donating to or joining an established workers rights group. Labour Behind the Label, Clean Clothes Campaign, the International Labor Rights Forum, and Garment Workers Center all advocate for better working conditions in the fashion industry, as does Fashion Revolution. If you’re crunched for time, you can still sign petitions, share campaign information on social media, or donate!

4. Help Garment Workers Close to Home

Start by fighting sweatshops in your own backyard. In Los Angeles, a mostly Hispanic immigrant workforce routinely works for less than the minimum wage and far beyond the legal limit for hours. The Garment Worker Center is a non-profit workers rights organization based in L.A. working to end abuse in the local garment industry. To help stop L.A. sweatshops, you can donate to the the G.W.C. or shop their online store. You can also sign up for their mailing list to stay in the loop on their campaigns and actions.