The exciting news is that awareness is building, manufacturing is changing, and there are many organizations working for human rights, environmental sustainability and the eradication of slavery. The fact that you are on this page makes you part of the movement. We can choose to be informed and shop with intention to ensure that we do not support inhumane industries. Informed, conscious consumers have an incredible ability to help industry evolve through ethical shopping and creating a demand for transparency. No matter how powerful an industry is, it will follow our lead when enough of us begin to shop this way.
We have listed below various resources that can help you learn or add to your current understanding about the nature and scope of the problems. We begin with Ted Talks and Films at the top of the page. In the second part of this list, links to websites of organizations that are fighting to improve workers’ rights, end slavery, and promote Fair Trade and ethical practices across industries are offered.
Learning about slavery and human rights abuses is not an easy journey emotionally, yet it is only by understanding what is happening that we can make a difference. There are many resources available, and we have listed here those that have touched and informed us. If you are wondering where to start, our first exposure to these issues was Lisa Kristine’s Ted Talk. We recommend starting there, and then watching Kevin Bales’ Ted Talk. Lisa Kristine’s talk is visual and emotional, while Kevin Bales focuses on the current problems and progress while making practical suggestions for what needs to be done. If you are interested primarily in the garment industry, scroll down: “The True Cost” is an informative place to begin that inquiry. All of the films are powerful – just start with the one that you feel drawn to. The social justice websites are full of information, suggestions and updates. By learning about this subject and sharing what you learn with others, you become part of the solution. Thank you!
All talk descriptions are taken from the TED website.
Kevin Bales: Kevin Bales explains the business of modern slavery…and names the price of freeing every slave on earth right now.
Lisa Kristine: For the past two years, photographer Lisa Kristine has traveled the world, documenting the unbearably harsh realities of modern-day slavery.
Bandi Mbubi: Drawing on his personal story, activist and refugee Bandi Mbubi gives a stirring call to action. (The connection between cell phones and war in the DRC.)
Matt Friedman: Matt Friedman reflects upon the breadth and range of human slavery in the world today, and how we can all play our part in helping to address this global problem.
Documentaries and Films By Subject
“SOLD”: From the website: “SOLD’s mission is to spread global awareness about trafficking and to raise substantial funds for organizations in India, Nepal and the US which rescue, rehabilitate and empower survivors of trafficking. Empowered survivors are often the best advocates for heroically addressing this issue all over the world.”
“Half the Sky”: From the website: “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is a four-hour series shot in 10 countries: Cambodia, Kenya, India, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Liberia and the U.S. Inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book, the documentary series introduces women and girls who are living under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable — and fighting bravely to change them.
Human Rights in the Garment Industry:
Documentary outlining the true cost of low-priced, “fast fashion” in human rights and environmental degradation. Includes interviews with fashion insiders who are calling for change.
“Udita”: (Trailer 2:22 min, film 1 h 15 min): watch at this link. “A feature length, observational documentary covering 5 years with the female garment workers at the grass roots of the industry in Bangladesh. From 2010, when organizing as workers was illegal, through the tragedies of Tazreen and Rana Plaza and up to the present day, as the women of Bangladesh mobilize en masse to demand a better life.” Produced by the UK-based Rainbow Collective
“Made in Bangladesh”: A short film on the fire in the garment factory in Bangladesh that illustrates how demand for low prices has created a sourcing model that obfuscates responsibility in the supply chain. This model, which is now common in the apparel industry, allows companies to avoid accountability for worker safety by denying awareness of workers’ rights violations.
The Fair Trade Resource Network’s film list (now the Fair Trade Federation)
Human Rights in the Garment Industry
Clean Clothes Campaign: Network of NGOs based in the European Union.
Maquila Solidarity Network: Canada-based NGO focusing on worker’s rights in Central America and Mexico.
Labour Behind the Label: UK-based NGO campaigning for garment workers’ rights worldwide.
Taught Not Trafficked: Estimates that 20,000 children are trafficked from Nepal every year. Taught Not Trafficked works to keep children in school because education significantly reduces the risk of a child being trafficked to the slave trade. This organization has partnered with the award winning film SOLD to raise awareness and inspire action to stop child sex trafficking and rehabilitate survivors. Two film clips are available at this link. One is SOLD (2:10) and the second is a Taught Not Trafficked short informational film (2.13 min.)
Not For Sale Campaign: An organization founded by Dave Batstone, author of the book Not For Sale, that works to protect people and communities around the world from slavery and human trafficking. This FAQ page is very helpful
A Heart for Justice: a site whose mission is to raise awareness about modern-day slavery and human trafficking. The site is a compendium of information that includes documentaries, books, organizations, and other resources.
The CNN Freedom Project: Informative blog that shares facts and stories of human trafficking from around the world and what ordinary people can do about it.
GoodWeave Organization working to end child labor in the rug industry in India, Nepal, and Afghanistan through a market-based model. Good Weave offers Fair Trade rug certification and connects consumers with beautiful, ethically-made rugs.
Global Witness: “Global Witness exposes the hidden links between demand for natural resources, corruption, armed conflict and environmental destruction.”
Fair Trade Federation. The Fair Trade Federation is a Washington DC-based nonprofit trade association that provides support to and promotes North American businesses that they identify as being fully committed to the principles of Fair Trade.
Fair Trade USA. A US-based organization that offers Fair Trade certification of larger manufacturing and industrial organizations.
Fair Labor. A collaborative organization that works with factory workers and their employers to advocate for greater accountability and transparency from companies, manufacturers, factories and others involved in global supply chains.
Better World Shopping Guide: Pocket-sized guide that rates a comprehensive list of companies for environmental and social responsibility. Updated frequently and organized by category for easy reference.
Book list from the Human Trafficking blog, both fiction and non-fiction.
Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF). The EFF created a global platform for sustainability in the fashion sector called SOURCE that includes a database for companies that wish to source materials ethically.
Fashion Revolution. Hip website by and for fashionistas worldwide who want to change the industry for the better. The organization was created in the wake of the disaster in Bangladesh that killed 1,129 garment workers on April 24th, 2013. The mission statement reads “We believe in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure. Our mission is to bring everyone together to make that happen”. This site has a great section of resources to help anyone interested in getting involved in changing the fashion industry.
Centre for Sustainable Fashion. “Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) is a Research Centre of the University of the Arts London based at London College of Fashion. Our work explores vital elements of Better Lives London College of Fashion’s commitment to using fashion to drive change, build a sustainable future and improve the way we live.”
Clean by Design Campaign of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Clean by Design focuses on improving process efficiency to reduce waste and emissions and improve the environment.”
Clear and concise blog article about the Bluesign standard for ethical apparel.
Article about the efforts of the ‘slow fashion’ movement to bring consumers clothing that is ethical and low cost-per-wear.
Article from Human Rights Watch about the current state of garment worker’s rights and factory safety in Bangladesh.