When we look at the headlines these days, it can be so easy to become overwhelmed. Whether it’s violent extremism, modern-day slavery, or the proliferation of global poverty, it seems as if there’s so much that has yet to be done. The sheer numbers are staggering:
Over 2.8 billion people living under $2.00 a day.1
45.8 million people are now living under modern day slavery (and that’s a conservative estimate).2
170 million children are engaged in child labor.3
For most of us, these issues can feel so far removed from our everyday realities.
What we don’t realize, however, is that in our modern, globalized world, we are all much closer than we think and are, and we can all have a hand in mitigating some of these seemingly intractable issues around the globe.
Today, I want to propose something very bold: that justice is already within our own reach.
First, it is critical to recognize that our actions as consumers are already influencing millions around the globe—right where we are.
For example, take our smartphones. When purchasing a new phone, most of us focus on features such as data plans and apps. However, did you know that your smartphone could have been linked to one of the largest conflicts in Africa? Until recently, the chips in iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones were made from coltan, a rare mineral that is most commonly mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and supports electronic circuitry.6 Revenue from coltan mining is often controlled by rebel groups and militias and directly funded years of conflict until corporations became aware of the issue and adjusted their supply chains.
The same sort of interconnectedness occurs in the apparel industry, which is notorious for its human rights abuses. As consumers, North America alone consumes approximately $2 billion in fashion items every year, with India, Vietnam, Turkey, China, and Hong Kong among the top exporters of clothing. Unfortunately, poor and abusive and deadly working conditions for apparel workers are still the norm.
In many countries, garment industry workers—who are disproportionately female—work in extremely unsafe conditions, are paid less than minimum wage, are subject to endemic sexual harassment, receive no sick leave or paid vacations, and can even be victims of bonded labor.
To give you a sense of what this looks like from the consumer side, the average white cotton t-shirt costs approximately $20, and less than $1 of this is paid to the worker who actually made it.7 While we as consumers seek out the best deals on our products, we often inadvertently overlook the plight of those on the other side of the supply chain and thus contribute to cycles of poverty and violence.
As you can see, consumers have an incredible amount of power based on where they choose to purchase their products. The power of our dollar is that it can unintentionally fund these unsafe industries, or, by discovering where our products come from and practicing conscious consumerism, we can actually work to mitigate many of these issues.
CAUSEGEAR is unique in that it not only takes a stand against these unsafe conditions by shortening its supply line, but it goes a step further to provide life-transforming jobs so that workers living in extreme poverty can live sustainably and seek a dignified pathway out of poverty. Further, CAUSEGEAR’s 5X Jobs Model offers crafters enough income for themselves and three others that depend on them, thus positively affecting entire families and communities in addition to the individuals our partners employ. This self-reliant pathway is already changing the legacies left behind. Will you join us?
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