Don’t sweat it this spring

Sweatshop labor is used to make much of the clothing sold by U.S. retailers.

As spring approaches and fashion weeks across the world end, many people will start hitting up clothes retailers of all sorts to purchase warm-weather essentials. Most people, especially college students, will shop on a budget and will look to find the best deals available. However, it is important to consider why some clothes are cheaper than others, other than the obvious.

It has been reported that two-thirds of retail clothing sold in the United States is made elsewhere. This greatly increases the likelihood that sweatshop labor produced it. The cheaper the clothes are priced, the cheaper the labor was that produced it.

Sweatshops easily can exist without being noticed. Federal law states that a sweatshop is operated in a fashion that breaks more than one labor industry regulation. These are regulations that define who can work, how long they can work, minimum wages and safety standards. People here and in other nations continue to work for sweatshops for a few main reasons, one being that sweatshop jobs often are the only jobs they can find. They aren’t only in other countries. Some clothing producers in California, New York and other large cities qualify as sweatshops.

Sweatshops continue to exist because the consumer demand for low-cost goods remains high. American companies often build factories overseas, particularly in Asia, because they can employ people without providing the pay and benefits they would have to give workers here. The cost of living in China, for example, is significantly lower than here – cutting the price of labor and plumping profits.

It is important to consider that many different companies work together to make a single garment. The cloth, thread or printing might come from different sources of labor. This makes it even harder for consumers to identify exactly what kind of company their money is going to support.

What consumers can do to change the way clothes are produced is to know whom they are buying from, ask questions and do a little looking around online. Go to a thrift store.