“Buy Local”. We hear this command everywhere we go- whether to the local farmer’s market or grocery store. It has been injected into our culture, and with good reason. Over the past few decades, we have seen the adverse effects of what manufacturing outside the object’s natural habitat can do to the consumers and the area of composition. When it comes to buying fruit, we all know that fresh picked is best. We also hope that the “carbon footprint” is minimal to have that piece of fruit shipped- for the impact it has on the environment. The closer you are to a food’s origins, the better the taste of the fruit. This is an irrefutable fact.
However, what about common goods we wear every day, say a tee shirt? Why does it matter if your good-old-standby tee was manufactured in Indonesia or China? Well, here are a few facts to weigh when contemplating the significance of textile manufacturing:
• Products that commonly come from sweatshops are shoes, clothing, rugs, coffee, chocolate, toys, and bananas.
• Textile Factories in three countries – the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka – were surveyed, and not one of them paid a living wage to their combined 100,000-strong workforce. Many of them didn't even pay the legal minimum wage.
• After the deadly collapse of a garment factory building in Bangladesh, more people have been asking questions about overseas-made apparel, often linked to sweatshops and unsafe working conditions.
• The U.S. undershirt market is comprised of 65 million people and not a single major brand is made here. Outsourced unregulated foreign sewing contractors take a huge toll on jobs in America, human lives abroad, and global pollution.
One more compelling reason to rethink your foreign made goods? A big shot in the arm to the US economy. A vibrant U.S. manufacturing sector means more domestic jobs. For example a $1 million backpack order, Cahn of Unionwear estimates he's able to hire 35 to 40 New Jersey workers. Less than 10 percent of American jobs come from manufacturing. Finally, our own Billy Thompson states that for every 2,000 shirts Thompson Tee makes each month, one job will be added to the US supply chain! Now, that is something to be proud of.
(Sources: The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/28/sweatshops-supplying-high-street-brands; DoSomething.org http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-sweatshops, Yahoo Finance http://finance.yahoo.com/news/welcome-home-made-usa-rise-084131785.html )