Slow Fashion: Help Fight For Garment Workers’ Rights by Supporting the Maquila Solidarity Network
Last year I attended an amazing event where I got to learn more about fast and slow fashion, watch The True Cost Documentary, and learn how to support the Maquila Solidarity Network which fights for garment workers’ rights. The event I attended was held in Kelowna, British Columbia and was put on by Julianne McLaren. If you haven’t seen The True Cost documentary, and aren’t sure what the problems are with fast fashion, I highly suggest you watch the documentary here.
What are the Main Problems with Fast Fashion?
One of the biggest problems is that fast fashion retailers exploit their manufacturers in developing countries. Workers (usually women and often children too) make clothes in often horrible conditions, for very little pay and many workers have died in factory collapses. One of the more well-known factory collapses was the Rana Plaza collapse of 2013 in Bangladesh. It killed 1,134 garment workers. Again, many facilities are simply not built well and threaten the lives of the people who make our clothes. The True Cost Documentary talks a lot about these and other issues and hardships facing fast fashion garment workers today.
The other problem with fast fashion is how it impacts the environment. Did you know that the average American throws out 81 pounds of clothing every year? Added up that is an insane amount of clothing being sent to landfills. What’s more is that fabrics like polyester are actually made of plastic so once they reach a landfill they never break down. We buy way more clothes than we used to 20 years ago, and we don’t use our clothes for nearly as long.
Slow Fashion: What is the Maquila Solidarity Network?
The following is a quote from the Maquila Solidarity Network website:
“The Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) is a labour and women’s rights organization that supports the efforts of workers in global supply chains to win improved wages and working conditions and greater respect for their rights.
MSN works with women’s and labour rights organizations, primarily in Central America and Mexico, on cases of worker rights violations and on joint projects and initiatives focused on systemic issues in the garment industry.
At the international level, MSN collaborates with the Clean Clothes Campaign and other counterpart organizations on labour rights issues in global supply chains, including increased transparency and public access to information on where and under what conditions apparel and other textile products are made. As a witness signatory to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, we support the Accord’s efforts to improve worker safety in garment factories in that country.”
For a full list of the types of work that MSN does, click here.
How You Can Help Support the Maquila Solidarity Network by Donation
There are two ways you can support the Maquila Solidarity Network. First of all, you can donate directly to the Maquila Solidarity Network by visiting this page of the MSN website. You can choose to make a one time donation or you can donate monthly. You can even donate in someone’s name as a gift.
How You Can Help Support the Maquila Solidarity Network by Hosting an Event
Another way to help support MSN is to host a fundraising event. The whole reason I found out about MSN was because I was invited to a fundraising event by Julianne McLaren. Julianne is very passionate about the slow fashion movement and so she put on a very successful event. She rented a small movie theatre and held a showing of The True Cost Documentary. After we all watched the documentary and had snacks, she talked to us about how the Maquila Solidarity Network is helping protect the rights of garment workers in Central America and Mexico. She also gave everyone a list of where to buy fair trade clothing in our city and online. Everyone donated to MSN and it was a very inspiring event. I interviewed Julianne about the event and this is what she had to say:
Slow Fashion: Where to Buy Fair Trade Clothing
Julianne McLaren runs a Facebook group called, ‘Fair Trade Clothing: Hope for Garment Workers’ on Facebook. It has a focus on where to find Fair Trade Clothing in Kelowna, BC, Canada. You can also do a quick Google search to see where fair trade clothing stores are located in your own city. Another way to find fair trade clothing, is to download the Good on You app to your phone. You can look up your favorite brands and see if they have good ratings on how they treat their garment workers. You can also see if they have good environmental ratings as well.
Fair trade clothing brands to buy from online:
- Matter Prints
- Fazl Socks
- Eileen Fisher
- Zero Waste Daniel
- Thought Clothing
- Patagonia (Only some items are fair trade and are labelled as such)
Slow Fashion: Where to Buy Used Clothing
Another way to participate in the slow fashion movement, is to buy clothing that is pre-loved. This way, you are not exploiting garment workers and you are keeping clothing out of landfills. You can do a quick Google search on your computer to find out where thrift shops are located in your city. If your city doesn’t have many thrift or consignment shops, you can also buy used clothing online at some of the places mentioned below. The nice thing about these websites is that you can sell your used clothing there too.
Online thrift and consignment shops:
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