Take Action > Sweatshops
Ensure that 10% of what you spend is on local, ethically produced goods.
Due to globalization, foods and goods produced from miles away have become available and accessible at our local markets. Many of these goods can also be produced locally, yet our global economic system has made importing them in from other countries the most cost efficient – but not always the most environmentally sustainable or supportive of workers’ rights.
By creating a budget that allocates a percentage of how much we spend to local products, we encourage local businesses and workers, decrease our carbon footprints, while learning more about the production and distribution of the things we buy.
Boycott a product or brand by refusing to purchase or use/wear it.
Boycotting products is a simple way to actively resist consuming products that are produced with sweatshop labour. Resistance is always stronger in numbers: educate your friends/classmates about sweatshops and boycott a product or brand together. Make noise about your action by blogging about it, sharing it on Facebook or telling a local newspaper!
Check out these Successful Boycotts
With a group, organize a clothing swap where you exchange clothes you no longer wear for new clothes from your friends’ closets.
Sweatshops – where children, youth, and adults are employed at low wages and in hazardous environments – exist because of consumer demands that enable large corporations to exploit labour to make profit. The more products we consume that are produced by these companies, the more incentive we give them to continue to use sweatshop labour.
Take a stand; instead of going shopping, next time host a clothing swap with your friends. You will finally clean up that closet your parents are nagging you about and end up with new clothes for free! By swapping items in your wardrobe, you are choosing not to purchase something made in a sweatshop and supporting human rights.
- Choose a location (your house will do just fine for a group of friends!);
- Spread the word via social networks and word-of-mouth;
- Gather up the clothes that you would like to contribute to the swap;
- Prepare some food or make it a potluck;
- Set up a few swapping ground rules (clothing should be clean, in good condition, etc.) and decide how the swap will work (is it auction style or does everyone get a turn?);
- Donate the un-swapped items to your local thrift store.
In the workshop, we talked about how our society has become so accustomed to disposable things. When something breaks, we throw it out. It is amazing how many people see a hole in a t-shirt or sock, for example, and think that it can no longer be worn. For this action, we suggest repairing something instead of throwing it away. One great way to do that is to learn to darn your socks. If you have a sock with a hole in it, darn it! There are lots of darning instructions online or, if you’re lucky, you might be able to ask your parents or grandparents about how to darn. It used to be a really common skill!
- To repair and reuse an item instead of throwing it away.
- To learn new skills from another generation.
- To raise awareness of a simple action (darning) on a big issue (globalization)
Invite people to watch a documentary on the impact of media.
There are several documentaries out that address the impact of media. Many of them discuss issues about gender representations, consumerism, and social stratification.
Choose a documentary to screen at school or host a screening for your friends and family at home. Create discussion questions for the group to answer after watching the film.
- Choose a documentary film;
- Choose a date, time, and location;
- Spread the word through social networks;
- Prepare for the screening: make some snacks or suggest that others bring a dish, watch the film beforehand, develop discussion questions for a conversation after the film;
- Watch the movie;
- Discuss your questions.
- Action Reports
- → Kate screened the movie Black Gold with friends
Create your own media – a blog, a Zine, a video – to share your perspectives and opinions.
Although media often produces negative messages that tell us how to view ourselves and the world, we can take back control of the media by producing our own!
If you have something to say, or an idea to share, multi-media outlets have made it very easy for us to produce our own media and the Internet has made is easy to distribute. Create a video, Zine, Blog, or song and share it with your online social networks.
Research The Living Wage for Families Campaign and start a campaign in your community or workplace.
The living wage is an hourly rate of pay that is re-calculated annually to reflect what people need to support their families based on the actual costs of living in a community. The living wage is a response to the spiral of debt, anxiety and long-term health problems that are related to low rates of pay. The living wage results in reduced stress, improved health and more independence for families while reducing health and social service costs and increasing participation and well-being in the community.
To start a Living Wage Campaign, read about the living wage, why it is important and what steps an employer and a community need to take to become recognized as living wage employers. Introduce the idea to your employer or your community – be sure to focus on all of the benefits that result from paying a living wage. When your employer is considering the idea, contact the Living Wage for Families Campaign for more information about how to become an officially recognized living wage employer.
Write a letter to your MP and tell them what is important to you.
We elect MPs into government in hopes that they will speak on our behalf on the issues and problems that concern us as citizens. Even if you may not be of legal voting age, you can still voice your opinion and let your MP know what is important to you. You can also write to Canada’s Minister for the Environment, Peter Kent, and share your ideas on what Canada should do to protect the environment. Some people have said that for a politician, a letter from one person counts for the voices of 1,000 others who didn’t get around to writing the letter (with hand-written letters and original letters being given even more weight than e-mails).