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Do You Know Where Your Clothes Came From?

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Stephanie Forbis


| As consumers we look to consuming as a way to fulfill our most basic needs. But, at that moment when you have just purchased something new and feel that satisfaction of your purchase, do you think about who was exploited in order for you to be able to buy that product? Most likely, your answer is going to be no.

To an extent it is understandable, as consumers we are limited to the information that we are given about where our products came from. If you asked any consumer if they would rather buy ethically or unethically produced goods, they would most likely answer ethically. However, this comes at a price. Some consumers are not going to want to give up their low prices, but some would. The other issue is that we don’t currently have a lot of information of where each thing we have purchased has come from. Tracking where your new shirt came from is incredibly hard due to the lack of information companies give you and the extensive journey it takes along the supply chain.

Not all hope is lost though. More and more consumers are being aware of exploited workers in countries and have been able to force companies to work toward better ethical practices. However, we may only hear of a few stories here and there on the news but there are many more unethical practices that are occurring worldwide.

I invite you to go to slaveryfootprint.org to explore how many slaves you have working for you. The word slaves is used very uncommonly in todays day and age, so when I came across this website I was a little shocked. It asks you to take a survey. Throughout the survey it prompts you with various questions regarding what you eat, how many different types of clothing you have, and many more. Not only that but throughout the survey it also gives you multiple startling facts that make you rethink what you consume. It makes you think further on what you are consuming and whom that consumption is exploiting.

That survey allows you to take a look into your current consumption, however, now I’m going to delve into the future of ethical consumption. What if we were able to scan every tag’s barcode before we made a purchase to know where the good came from? What if we were able to tell if the good was made by exploiting the workers who made it? When we consume we are completely detached from the production process. We are isolated due to the fact that the journey the item takes from raw materials to the shirt is extensive and goes through so many hands globally before it ever reaches our own.

More and more consumers want to know where their products came from and that is where project Just comes in. This project is exploring technology to be able to scan each barcode and to be able to tell where this product came from and whether the practices in making the product were ethical. Imagine how much this could change whether we decide to purchase a product or not. Without the information we are completely disconnected, so this project will give us the opportunity to be connected to the information that we need in order to consume ethically. Not only are they helping consumers but they are also helping brands and suppliers connect to each other to continue to create ethical and sustainable connections for future brands and suppliers in the industry. Although this is a work in progress and we have a long way to go, we must get behind this movement and to make sure we stay connected to the journey of each good we consume.

Image: Flikr

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