Today it’s possible to purchase strawberries grown in Spain, Mangos grown in Myanmar and blueberries grown in New Zealand. We feel good about buying fruits and vegetables grown all over the world but is it good for us? The same goes for clothing. Is it good for us to purchase clothing made in other countries and shipped to the United States even if the garment company making these goods claims to “give back” to the world?
Two weeks ago I attended the One Earth Film Festival in Oak Park, Illinois. This amazing festival features films from all over the world that focus on the environment and our impact on it. I actually spoke on the panel for the film titled, The Economics of Happiness. To sum it up (without my giving it the full justice it deserves), this film covers the importance of retaining our local supply chains and purchasing goods and services that are local. It discusses how big corporations are destroying the planet by shipping goods all over the world and in most cases, they are even destroying the very communities that produce their goods.
Be careful shopper because these clothing lines will pull anything out of their hat to get you to feel warm and fuzzy about buying clothes that negatively impact our planet. Many of these companies use words like “sustainable” and “organic” to describe their clothing. Some even claim to generously donate to charities or improve the world thru their businesses. So how can any company that produces garments outside the United States, but sells the majority of their products back into it be good for our world? Are we all really fooled by these good will appearances? If they don’t manufacture their goods within the borders of the major market they sell to, they are not helping our planet or the communities producing the goods for them.
We already know that by sewing in China or any other country besides the United States (if that is their major market), garment lines are heavily contributing to global climate change. What The Economics of Happiness showed me, is that any garment line that sews outside of its major distribution channel, not only has a higher, negative environmental impact but a much higher negative HUMAN impact. These garment lines add to the destruction of the local essence in the communities where they operate. The people producing these goods start believing their society is far less valuable than those in the countries they are producing them for. It creates this global inferiority complex and these villages and small communities lose their own traditions, even their identities over a very short period of time.
I sound like a broken record but The Economics of Happiness validated my belief in how a responsible garment line or any company for that matter, should work. A truly responsible garment line who cares about the environment and the diverse populations around the world, produces their goods here in the United States or within the country they sell the majority of their goods to. It’s wonderful to donate to worthy causes but if a company doesn’t operate locally and responsibly, all the warm and fuzzy marketing in the world won’t help us in the fight against climate change. Most importantly, it won’t help us save the diverse communities and traditions from which these companies operate, and that my friends is a huge loss for us all.
-Germaine Caprio, MAJAMAS EARTH Company Owner & Designer
Previously Posted on March 21, 2014