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 Post subject: Veganism and Sweatshops
PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2014 10:47 pm 
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Tofu Pup

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Hello! From what I gather, many of us are vegan because we believe in treating animals ethically. Yet, I am sure many of us wear clothing made in factories with poor working conditions in the developing world. I come from a region where sweatshops are everywhere (South Asia). It is true, sweatshops can provide the extremely poor with some social mobility, but sweatshops are overall terrible, cruel things.

Given this, and the fact that humans are animals, shouldn't vegans try to avoid clothing made in environments highly unfriendly to workers?

Your thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: Veganism and Sweatshops
PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 12:27 am 
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Huffs Nooch
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That's an interesting topic, Bijan. I personally don't know much about sweatshops, certainly not as much as I feel I should as a responsible consumer. I think part of the difficulty for people is that it is hard to know where your clothing is made. Maybe you can assume that if something seems incredibly cheap and from certain regions, there was a human cost (i.e. sweatshops) involved, but even if something is expensive, how do you know it also didn't come from a sweatshop? Being a vegan, it is at least easy for me to tell if something contains animal product in it or not.

I could buy things I know are made in Canada, where I know the labour laws are stronger than in many parts of the world, but that doesn't entirely seem right to me. I don't think would help the people working in sweatshops either.

What are your thoughts, Bijan? How do you decide what clothing to buy? What is the feeling among other people in South Asia where sweatshops are common?


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 Post subject: Re: Veganism and Sweatshops
PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 3:50 am 
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Bathes in Braggs
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I generally think if it's not explicitly pointed out where it's made, then it's made in sweat shops, whether the clothes are cheap or expensive. I try to not buy many clothes for enviornmental reasons and if I do I try to buy second hand OR high quality so they'll last long.

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 Post subject: Re: Veganism and Sweatshops
PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 6:08 am 
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Yes, I try to buy second hand when possible, but I wonder the same thing as broseph, that probably isn't all that helpful to people who work in sweatshops. I'm interested in this thread because this is an issue I really don't know how to take action on.

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 Post subject: Re: Veganism and Sweatshops
PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 7:23 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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while personally i do agree with you Bijan, and i say this with respect, I think it gets a bit hairy when people make assumptions about what veganism means. For example, vegan = healthy or vegan = ethical labor or vegan = environmentally friendly (i'm thinking specifically about recent debates about how since palm oil farming is destroying orangutan habitat, palm oil is not vegan).

I find it useful to say "veganism and fair labor practices have a lot in common" ... in my case, it's really true, i became veg and later vegan because of concern for worker safety and welfare. Instead of making it a case for the Vegan Police (because we all know them, right), maybe making people think a bit why it may be a natural expansion of their ethics may be helpful.

that said, i think it's hard. i buy almost all of my clothing used and it makes me feel a bit better. But how can you tell whether clothing, shoes, or anything is made in a sweatshop? Okay, Walmart, sure. But we recently had some high profile cases of top brand pieces being made in slave-labor sweatshops here in Brazil. Not to say that if we can't be 100% ethical, we shouldn't try at all, but i find it wildly complicated. My temporary solution is simply to buy less.

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 Post subject: Re: Veganism and Sweatshops
PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 8:18 am 
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Bathes in Braggs
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As I said, I'm pretty sure if a shop doesnt go out of their way to say that they're not using sweat shops (eg American Aparall) then they're using them.

I read the official US government report on visibility (?) of different clothing companies and I was fascinated that H&M had a much much higher ranking than Lacoste in terms of where their cotton etc came from. Not saying they were great, they definitely weren't, but the prices of the clothes didnt really seem to be in any logical relation to how ethical the companies were. Again, this only applies to companies who aren't 100 % eco/ethical companies but "regular" ones.

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 Post subject: Re: Veganism and Sweatshops
PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 9:20 am 
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Spent a night at the Bates Motel
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VeganinBerlin wrote:
As I said, I'm pretty sure if a shop doesnt go out of their way to say that they're not using sweat shops (eg American Aparall) then they're using them.


And I don't even feel comfortable supporting American Apparel because the CEO has been the subject of many sexual harassment lawsuits and their advertising is highly reminiscent of child pornography. It is hard to get all of my ethical ducks to line up in a row.

Sweatshops are not a vegan issue for me, but rather an extension of my human rights activism. A person that is vegan for health reasons may not see the connection. Still, a great topic to start, Bijan!

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 Post subject: Re: Veganism and Sweatshops
PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 9:30 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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dakini wrote:
It is hard to get all of my ethical ducks to line up in a row.

isn't that the truth!! [i'm enjoying the image of ethical ducks.]

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 Post subject: Re: Veganism and Sweatshops
PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 9:32 am 
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I struggle with this because I don't know enough about how to buy clothing ethically and the cost for the items from companies that advertise their ethical practices seem astronomical. I try to buy second hand as much as possible, but where I live it seems impossible to find a "made in Canada" or "made in the USA" label.

The other problem I come across is that the items that are artisan crafted seem to rely heavily on animal products like sheep or alpaca wool or silk.

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 Post subject: Re: Veganism and Sweatshops
PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 9:42 am 
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Moon wrote:

The other problem I come across is that the items that are artisan crafted seem to rely heavily on animal products like sheep or alpaca wool or silk.


I've definitely come across this too. Or they are plain white cotton t-shirts and khaki pants. I can't wear that to work.

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 Post subject: Re: Veganism and Sweatshops
PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 2:51 pm 
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While what I buy is related in my head to the reasons I went vegan, I do think it's problematic to say something isn't vegan because of the labor used to produce it, or even to say what other vegans should do. I won't eat chocolate from the Ivory Coast, but I wouldn't say that chocolate from there isn't vegan.


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