What's the real cost of your stuff?
The truth will probably make you sick.
What's worse is that your hard-earned money has been funding it, whether you know it or not.
Enough is enough.
Each purchase on Ethikli re-routes money AWAY from child labor, fast fashion/beauty, and greedy big business.
Learn the truth and make the commitment to invest your hard-earned money in ethics, inclusivity, and transparency.
What's the problem?
Greed + Globalization.
The problem isn’t actually globalization, it’s the way the system has manipulated globalization. Behind closed doors, big business makes the conscious decision to put money before people. They will tell you that the “job opportunities" they create in developing countries like Bangladesh are “better than the alternative” options they have available. While offering work in developing countries CAN actually be a benefit to the community when done correctly, the current system is just taking advantage of their situation and exploiting them as modern slaves.
HOW IT WORKS: Greedy corporations demand lower and lower labor costs in order to create higher and higher margins (aka more money in THEIR pocket). So, they take their manufacturing facilities to countries where labor laws are inadequate and unenforced. As a result, factories in these countries are forced to pay their workers close to nothing while demanding longer hours and faster production. That's why you can buy a trendy dress for $12. If it only costs $0.20 to make, companies can charge YOU only $12 and still make a 98% profit margin. Which also explains the growing wage gap between the working class and 1%...
Forced labor is thought to generate around $150 billion a year in illegal profits while the humans actually doing the physical work make pennies an hour. It’s pretty much indentured servitude and, in some cases, actual modern slavery. According to The True Cost, there are roughly 40 million garment workers worldwide, the majority of whom make less than $3/day. And, that's just the garment industry. Some mica (used for shimmery makeup and car parts) miners work from 5am-6pm, only make $3 per WEEK, and share one cup of rice per day between a family of 5.
Consequently, children are forced to work full-time to help put food on the table. The poverty cycle inevitably continues generation after generation.
Because their parents are not paid living wages, many children (approximately 152 million worldwide) are often forced to work full-time jobs (often living apart from their parents to do so). At least 88 million boys and 64 million girls forgo school to work in order to feed themselves. And, the types of jobs available are usually in hazardous, abusive, exploitive conditions.
As a result, kids are deprived of their childhood, education, basic human rights and bare necessities like health care to treat the injuries and illnesses caused by the harsh work conditions they spend 12+ hours a day in. Children are often buried alive while mining for mica so that you can get that perfect shimmery highlight.
Inhumane/Unsafe/Unsanitary Working Conditions.
Children and adults work excruciatingly long hours (usually 12+ hours/day) in unsanitary and unsafe conditions in order to meet the demands of greedy corporations. Some work in 100+ degree heat digging in holes/mines that are 15 meters deep (almost 50 feet!) that could collapse on them at any moment (and frequently do). Some work in furnace hot glass factories inhaling harmful, cancer-causing particles and chemicals, malnourished, with no access to health care/first aid. And, some work in neglected buildings without access to proper emergency equipment like fire extinguishers.
For example - In May 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh catastrophically collapsed into rubble killing more than 1,100 workers and injuring at least 2,000 workers. The collapse could have easily been prevented with proper building maintenance and upkeep - expenses employers weren't willing to pay in an effort to keep margins high.
Human Trafficking/ Modern-Day Slavery.
In many cases, workers are forced into binding labor contracts that lock them into crippling debt and servitude. Labor brokers offer loans (often $7,000) to workers with the promise of helping them find employment. While they may find employment, they aren't paid anywhere close to fair/living wages and, therefore, it takes years to pay off the debt of the loan. And, with employment contracts usually only last 3 years, it's virtually impossible to escape this debt spiral. They end up spending their entire lives in an endless cycle of working shitty, inhumane jobs trying to pay off a bottomless pit of human exploitation/trafficking.
Lack of Inclusivity.
Racism, sexism, homophobia. Straight, white men have almost always been dealt a better hand than everyone else.
Materialism and the Pursuit of Possessions.
Advertising is propaganda. From day one, the ultimate goal of the marketing industry has been to convince us that all of our problems will be solved if we just keep buying stuff. We've been hypnotized into believing that more is better and that a person's value is measured by the amount of money and stuff they have. Fast fashion is both a cause and effect of the "I've already worn it on social media" syndrome. Why is it "uncool" to wear something more than once? Because the money-hungry fashion industry said so. If we all used our stuff until the end of it's life, companies would go bankrupt (the way they're currently set up). It's their prerogative to keep us buying more. But, for MANY reasons, LESS IS ACTUALLY MORE. Read my blog post about "Eco-Minimalism" here to learn more about this because it's too much for me to elaborate on in this post.
What can we do about it?
STOP FUNDING GREEDY CORPORATIONS.
Boycott companies who care more about pennies than people. The only way to get the attention of greedy corporations is to stop paying them. If we stop buying their products they’ll be forced to change their ways to meet the demands of their would-be customers. Together, we can literally incite change - one purchase at a time.
Re-evaluate Your Consumption.
Take some time to evaluate how much and what stuff you buy. Is it stuff you really need? Where do you buy it from? Do you only use/wear things once and then throw it away or let it collect dust in storage? Is a $12 Fashion Nova dress really worth the trail of suffering? Why do you feel the need to only be seen wearing something once? Does stuff really define who we are? Who would you be without all of your stuff?
Learn more about this and how to change your perspective in my Eco-Minimalist blog post.
Support Charities Doing the Work.
Support charities like UNICEF and Save The Children. They are doing great work in these countries providing schooling, meals, and safe havens for children and, in some cases, successfully pull them out of the poverty cycle. So, the next time you’re approached by a [legit] volunteer asking for a donation for the children, please give it if you can. Even $1 can go a long way.
I created Ethikli to make it easy to shop ethically and sustainably. I'll keep adding more Ethikli-Approved brands and products until you can buy literally everything you need without the greed and suffering.
- Suggested Reading
- Suggested Viewing
- Charities to Support
"One Earth, One Humanity vs. the 1%"
by Vandana Shiva & Kartikey Shiva
Save The Children