The One Thing That Actually Helps Sweatshop Reform? College Apparel Activism



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You have good taste — but even if the clothes on your back may look like it was spun by fairies in the Keebler workshop, it probably wasn't made that way. The actual mass production of the clothes we wear can be a really awful, heartbreaking process and involve a system that's incredibly hard to monitor, reform, and stop.

Even after pledging to follow child-labor and human-rights standards established under such organizations such as the International Labor Organization (ILO), factories around the world still employ children, cheat workers out of wages, and abuse their employees both through intimidation, sexual violence, and physical force.

And, it's not just companies like Wal-Mart and Nike that are guilty — many high-end designer brands outsource production to Bangladesh, China, and Honduras, where national labor laws don't protect much of anything. Jake Blumgart from Salon.com details all of the frustrations and roadblocks (not to mention the danger) that traditional reforms meet and the one area that's actually helping to make gains: activist campaigns on college campuses.

That's right — those student groups you remember participating in or seeing on campus and the school pride shirts everyone wore to game days — the activity surrounding college apparel is terribly important to effecting real change. Salon.com goes through the protests that really began on campuses in the '90s and how it's benefitted workers — higher wages, more independent inspections, and the opening of ethically operated factories in developing worlds. Click through to read the in-depth report of how real change has been made and how you can support these organizations and ethical brands with your hard-earned money and time. (Salon)

Photo: Courtesy of S.C.A.L.E.