We all hear about sweat shops in China and other areas. We really don't give it much of a thought because we don't ever really come in contact with these people, so in our lives they bear little if no significance. Well, this past July I was given the opportunity to meet some of these people in Cambodia. When I met them they quickly became much more than insignificant. This short afternoon trip just hours before flying back to the US changed the way our family purchases.
I briefly met a sweet girl who took our little group of four into her home. Her home was like hundreds of others, all owned by the garment factory, to whom she pays rent out of her wages. She and three of her friends all lived in a very dark room about 8'x8'. It has one window, none of which I saw open on any of the houses. They have a small bathroom, with just a toilet; a small standing shelf and a bed made out of wood slats. Three of the girls sleep on the bed and one sleeps on the concrete floor. There was one small florescent light over the window. Each worker is in the factory 6 days a week, 10 hours a day for about $60-$80 per month.
Stores that use these sweat shops for production include but are not limited to Target, Walmart, Gap, Old Navy. Just look inside your clothing. It is surprising how many of mine said made in Cambodia. If it says "made in Cambodia" it was made in this town.
Our family decided that it is important to support fair wages and acceptable working practices and living conditions. We are no longer buying clothes from these stores. In fact, since so many of stores use sweat shops all around the world, we are now buying all of our clothing fair trade. This way we are spending our money to support honest, acceptable working conditions. A few of you have asked for some websites for fair trade clothing. The few that I am shopping off of right now are:
www.fairindigo.com and nationsoutfitters.com.
We are also buying fair trade in other areas such as coffee, chocolate and coconut oil to name a few. If you are looking for a place to order some great fair trade coffee visit https://justlovecoffee.com/about/beneficiary/TheBowdens/. Not only can you find fair trade coffee but the proceeds of the sale go to benefit our friends adoption.