This photo has been haunting me.
Those are two of the more than 1,100 workers who died in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh.
Some of those workers may have been making clothes for my kids.
This factory collapse is not a random tragedy: it is part of a pattern of deadly factories in Bangladesh, and, as James Surowiecki wrote in The New Yorker, it is a foreseeable consequence of the cheap clothes I buy at Target or Forever 21 or Old Navy. It’s difficult to trace the webs of subcontractors, of course, but we know some workers in Rana Plaza were sewing jeans for Walmart. They could have been sewing the leggings I bought last week at Target.
In partnership with independent labor inspectors, many European corporations have just signed an accord on building safety and fire inspection in Bangladesh. But these 14 American retailers refused to sign:
- VF Corp.
- Cato Fashions
- American Eagle Outfitters
- The Children’s Place
- Foot Locker
So I won’t be shopping at Target, Gap, Kohl’s, Children’s Place, Macy’s, or any of the others any more, until they sign this accord that means their workers and subcontractors will have a chance at basic safety. It might mean an additional dime in the price of the clothes I buy. I’m willing to pay a dime.
In the meantime, until they sign the accord, I think I’ll be buying mostly used clothing for my kids. And I’m thankful that at least H&M did sign.
I was a regular shopper at Target, for my kids’ socks and pants and sunhats and more, but I won’t be any more.
Join me, please. If enough of us tell Target that we’re willing to pay a dime to know that our clothes-workers have basic safety, they may hear us. Consumer movements have been powerful in American history. The tea boycott spurred the American revolution, while 1980s environmentalists even got McDonalds to spurn styrofoam early. We can get Target to treat its garment-workers decently.
UPDATE: I emailed Target and didn’t hear back yet, so I made a petition. Please consider signing the petition here. Add your voice. I know it’s a cliche, but, really, together we can make a difference.