Happy New Year – 2014

It has been too long since I have posted to this site. And as one of my New Year’s resolutions that will change. I here by resolve to post regularly. I have my camera ready and projects planned and I will be recording and posting about it all. (note: after creating the draft for this post I caught a nasty virus that set me back for a week — the story of my life)

I also resolve to complete a year of not purchasing any ready-to-wear clothing for myself or my family. Nothing. If it will be added to anyone’s wardrobe, it will be made by me.

I have been becoming increasingly uneasy with the things I am learning about the conditions of the people who are making our clothing. The world has heard news stories such as the fire or the factory collapsed in Bangladesh where people were killed. Currently there are riots by the factory workers in the garment industry in Cambodia where they are trying to get a living wage. Not just a better living wage, a living wage. A wage increase from $100 to $160 per month. It is reported that a living wage for this region would in fact be $283 per month. I made more than that in the late 1970’s when manufacturing was still here in the US and I worked in garment factories. And this is not a 40 hour per week job. Many are working 10 hour days, 6 days per week.

But, there is more. It’s even more disturbing than poor working conditions and low wages. Children are working in these factories. They are able to get documents falsified to show that they are at least 18 years old to work in the factories to help support their families but also to avoid becoming a victim of human trafficking. Cambodia continues to be a hub for child sex trafficking. Really? I mean, REALLY? It breaks my heart.

Now stop and think about it. Think about that pair of jeans or that shirt you put on today. What about that holiday dress that you bought. Did a child make it? If not a child, was the worker treated well and with dignity who made that garment? Were they paid a fair wage? It really hit home for me this holiday season.

My son is living in Cambodia now and has helped me to understand a lot of all of what is going on there and other parts of the world. As I was learning more and more, I continued to shop for clothing. There was a little twinge of guilt as I read the labels on the clothing. But, I continued to shop and read more about the struggles of the people in that part of the world. Then one day, when I was wrapping my granddaughter’s outfit, one of those tags popped up out of the collar and it glared angrily at me, “Made in Cambodia”. I felt sick to my stomach and I knew then what I had to do. I just can not do buy these items any longer. I can not purchase these things knowing what other people are going through to make these clothes.

There are those who say that if they don’t have these jobs then they would be worse off. True. But I just can not live knowing that this or the worse options continue. Exploitation is exploitation and I can not support it. Therefore, I hereby resolve to make all my clothes and the items that my family needs. And I will continue to teach those who want to learn to do the same.

Since I have a large family many of the items that I make will be birthday gifts. And since many of the birthday fall during the first two months of the year I am already falling behind. I have 2 birthdays in January and 5 in February. So, I need to be busy…like now!

So my journey begins.

I know others who are resolving to make their own clothes and not purchase. What are your reasons?

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