Black Friday : Latest Updates On The Garment Workers Around Asia

Black friday and garment workers around Asia (image credit : ChangeMakr Asia)
While Black Friday is the opposite of sustainability, it doesn’t get any less popular. We decided to reposition the campaign to highlight the latest updates on garment workers in Asia
Our inboxes and social media feeds are being filled up with adverts encouraging us to spend.  We get it – it’s sale seasons and many of us may have been waiting to buy an essential product, such as a new mattress or new laptop. Sale seasons help many people access products that wouldn’t otherwise be affordable to them. So, if you’re awaiting Black Friday as a matter of affordability, you won’t find any shame from us. 
As the world becomes more and more concerned with sustainability, fashion is no exception. This Black Friday, ChangeMakr Asia decided to reposition the campaign and delve further into the stories about the clothing trade.  

Black Friday, Covid19 and Garment Workers 

Since the start of Covid-19 pandemic, garment workers around the world have been left unpaid or underpaid, causing a wage gap between what they received and what they are owed. According to  The report by Clean Clothes Campaign in August 2020, the garment industry saw at least three cumulative waves of acute devastation :
  1. In January 2020, when the transportation of raw materials from China to other garment producing countries was suspended, many factories were forced to close temporarily. 
  2. The next wave hit as the pandemic spread to Europe and the United States (US). In response to a sudden drop in consumer demand for apparel, brands cancelled and refused to pay for shipments of completed and in production orders. As a result, factors were forced to close and dismiss workers en masse. Each time factories were forced to close, workers were often sent home without notice or pay from their employers.
  3. The third wave of devastation continues when the virus spread in garment producing countries. Til date, many factories remained closed and millions of workers remain unpaid. 
Furthermore, according to the latest Fashion Revolution campaign, the effect of COVID-19 on the fashion industry has left brands with mountains of unsold stock. While it’s impossible to estimate just how many clothes have been landfilled or incinerated, Bangladesh alone has seen more than $3 billion USD in cancelled orders, representing an estimated 982 million garments.
In addition, the majority of the people who work in the industry only earn poverty wages, unable to accumulate savings and are often in debt. In many cases, they are employed informally or on a contract basis with no access to social benefits, leaving them especially vulnerable to the economic ravages of the pandemic. 

Black Friday – What You Can Do Instead

Black Friday represents a sore spot in an industry that runs on overproduction and hyper-consumption. When we buy into the seemingly good deals, we send a message to brands that it’s okay for them to thoughtlessly produce at the cost of people and the planet, because their customers will help them get rid of stockpiles as long as they are steeply discounted.
So before jumping on the Black Friday train in the endless hunt for a bargain, here are few things you can do instead :
1. Ignoring it 
This probably the most straightforward solution for sustainable/ethical brands is not to participate in Black Friday at all. Abstaining from the shopping and the discounts send a message to brands that you, as a consumer, are not easily tricked into their marketing illusions.  
2. Ask your self “do you need it ?”
Black Friday purchases are based on hype and impulse. It is designed to entice you into time-pressured offers to make you buy more, and think less. As a solution, dont just buy because it’s cheap. Think of why you are intending to buy, inspect your potential purchase and only then decide. 
3. Write a shopping list ahead of time. 
Black Friday is about the rush, the speed, the compulsion. So the best  solution is to create a short list of things you plan to buy a week in advance and stick to it.
4. Take part and spread the message. 
Demand brands to #payupworkers in their supply chains full wages or compensation during pandemic.
Clean Clothes Campaign urgently need your help to take action by spreading their clothes labels in shops! The Objective is to put workers’ voices on blast; where better than in the clothes they made but weren’t paid for?
The QR code leads people to this action page! Please take pictures of your action and share them online, to amplify the workers’ voices even more.
Clean Clothes Campaign
Clean Clothes Campaign "Clothes Label" with QR Code (image credit : Clean Clothes Campaign)
You can also share the Fashion Revolution campaign on social media to help spread message about Black Friday.  
5. Stand up to brands
Reach out to the big brands and ask them how they protect the people who make their clothes and whether they  are taking responsibility for the waste they create. Ask them #WhoMadeMyClothes? Ask #WhatsInMyClothes ? and ask them to make less stuff. 
So if you do feel the need to shop this Black Friday, go ahead and buy with purpose. purchase safe in the knowledge that the people who made your products were treated fairly and that any negative environmental impact has been kept to a  minimum wherever possible.  
Also Read : 

Can we really have carbon neutral lives ? 

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