Bangladesh & Rana Plaza – did the corporates grow a conscience overnight?

How come it took one of the world’s worst industrial disasters to take some action on the appalling factory conditions in Bangladesh? Doing a quick google about Walmart (one of the manufacturers in the factory) threw up the astonishing figure of their net income for 2013.

Walmart net income: USD 16.999  billion (2013)

Wow. Each person in the Bangladesh factory makes NZD 133 per month (8,000 taka). You would think Walmart could have perhaps afforded to make the environment these people work in a lot safer.

At least now they and Gap are part of the growing number of companies that have finally signed an agreement to pledge to fix the problem.
Walmart and Gap sign agreement

Fact: Over 1,100 people died making Western clothes in Rana Plaza. It was entirely avoidable.

Companies that have agreed to make some sort of financial contribution, include: Primark (UK), El Corte Ingles (Spain), Loblaw (Canada), PVT (Denmark), Matalan (UK), Benetton (Italy) and Premier Clothing (UK).

Benetton released a statement on the 23rd of May saying that their support will include artificial limbs, surgery, psychological support and training for survivors and workers. They need to engage with the trade unions representing the workers, and to commit to compensate for loss of income, pain and suffering and support to education.

What you can do

By not buying from brands that don’t take safety and ethical practices in their factories seriously, you can show your support for the victims of the Bangladesh factory collapse. Vote with your wallet and choose to spend your hard earned cash somewhere that gives a damn.

Ethical running/casual shoes…options you’ll love

So…shoes shoes shoes. This has been a bit of a conundrum for me. I have not bought a lot of shoes in my ethical year. The ones I did buy were second-hand. I really struggled with running shoes. Reading Lucy Siegle’s Guardian article, I realised that the shift is slowly but surely happening towards ethical shoes. Even if it’s at a bit of a glacial pace.

One aspect of running shoes that has always annoyed me is that fact that we can pay $220 for a pair of running shoes yet the actual cost to make them (including the labour) is not that high. In the words of local heroes Flight of the Conchords,

“They’re turning kids into slaves, just to make cheaper sneakers
But what’s the real cost? ’Cause the sneakers don’t seem that much cheaper

Why are we still paying so much for sneakers? When you got them made by little slaves kids.
What are your overheads?”

But after a bit of digging around, I have found some good options which happen to be both stylish and fair trade – score!

Ethical shoes featuring Vivobarefoot, Ethletic and Veja

Made in NZ – CAST clothing

Just discovered this brand CAST by Catherine Stonely, made right here in NZ.

CAST is a one man or should I say woman band. She stocks and ships lots of cute dresses, tunics, tops, leggings and accessories. She is based in Fielding but occasionally comes down to Wellington to the Frank Kitts market. Hoping she gets here soon otherwise I feel a road trip is in order…

I love this coat.

CAST website

Finally, some ethical jeans!

So since I started this, two things have me stumped – jeans and sports clothes. But I’m pleased to say that jeans are now off the list thanks to finding out about Monkee Genes.

Monkee Genes was born in 2006 out of the frustration of the denim market, to offer something fresh, vibrant and youthful. Disillusioned with Primark and disposable high street fashion, the Monkee Genes team decided to raise public consciousness. Monkee Genes is the first and only jeans label to have unique mix of astute accreditation from The Soil Association and the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS).

Innovative fits and styles in top of the range fabrics, classic denim with a retro twist and luscious sateen cottons in pop art inspired colours. In today’s fragile environment Monkee Genes is the independent label to watch, on trend, affordable and with an eco and ethical conscience. ” Read their manifesto.

They make women’s, men’s and children’s jeans as well as shorts. They also ship to anywhere in the world for 5 pounds.

Might have to order me some soon….

Monkee genes image

Ms Wandas and my first guest blog post

Ms Wandas contacted me about a month ago via the wonderful Twitter. Ms Wandas Wardrobe is an Uber Blog that brings together some of the best writers on the blogosphere.

In their own words, they’re “not an ordinary bunch of bloggers – underneath their lipstick and frilly knickers they’re a bunch of savvy fashionistas who want to rock the world.”

Since they contacted me, I’ve had my first guest blog post published on their site which is super exciting! In case you missed the tweet, here’s a link to my post.

Five steps to an ethical fashion wardrobe the kiwi way

Find out more about MsWandas

Love this site – Fashion Conscience

Just stumbled across Fashion Conscience. If you’re addicted to online shopping and want to do it without too much guilt, here’s your answer. They have a policy of only showcasing products that have an ethical or eco dimension. Check out their ethical policy

Love this paragraph from them..

“We love fashion, which by its nature is constantly moving, fickle and hugely wasteful. To counter this we believe in wearing items for their functional lifespan and being more discerning when making your purchases – try to only ever buy an item you truly love and will wear to death. Then recycle what’s left of it.”

They have symbols next to their products that show whether or not they are Fair trade, sustainable etc. Check out their symbols