You’ve considered the impact of your decisions on the fields, on the waste stream, and on your own child. Lowering the impact at each of these stages addresses some aspects of environmental sustainability.
What of social sustainability? Who tends the fields? How do they live? What choice do they have? What compensation do they get?
That may seem like a lot of questions, but we aren’t even out of the field yet. How do the fibers get from field to you? Who cleans the fiber? Who prepares it for spinning? Who runs the loom? Who carries 20-80lb rolls of fabric? Who drives the truck or captains the ship?
Then we reach the stage when we often hear about sweatshops. Who cut that fabric? Who pieced it together? Who made the pretty little label?
If every person along this chain is not fairly paid for their part in the process, the social costs are enormous. We can pay living wages now. Or we can pay later–in many ways–for the effects of poverty on health, family, and the basic happiness that all of us deserve.
It’s just a diaper? The diaper is only our example. Wherever you are, you are surrounded by examples. Everything you bring into your life is connected to a chain of consequence. Manufacturered items are not just raw materials. They are labor. They are a variety of hidden workers. You can compensate them for their work by supporting and paying for fair labor practices.
Fair Trade: Where Else Can You Turn to Learn?
The Fair Trade Federation connects producers with consumers, making sure producers are paid fairly for their work. http://www.fairtradefederation.org/
UNITE HERE is a fine starting place to find out more about stopping sweatshops. UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees) and HERE (Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union) merged in 2004 to form the diverse union UNION HERE. Start here to read about textile issues: http://unitehere.org/industry/textile/
Fair Trade is one of the sustainability issues addressed by the Organic Consumers Association: http://organicconsumers.org/
copyright © 2000 – 2017 Lori Taylor. Used by permission.