Are you looking for ethical t-shirts? No Sweat at Fifth Column printers, you’re talking our language. And when we say ‘No Sweat’ we mean that in more ways than one. It’s the kind of thinking we love, an area in which we specialise and also the name of one of our favourite new wholesale t-shirt suppliers. No Sweat supply blank t-shirts that fight sweatshop labour. That’s the type of blank merchandise we’re always ready to endorse and are generally itching to print.
Here at Fifth Column, we have a really good feeling for the direction that No Sweat are taking. It’s great working with people who want to make a difference. No Sweat tees are produced in worker’s co-operatives run by ex-sweatshop workers and the profits are used to fight sweatshop labour. We’re only too willing to spread the word for something like that. So, read on and find out a little more about No Sweat. You may decide your next run of custom t-shirts need to be screen printed on their garments.
The Reality of Sweatshops.
Most of us are familiar with the term sweatshop and get the gist when we hear the word. But it’s difficult to fully appreciate the horror of what’s involved in modern day sweatshops.
Think ridiculously low wages and long hours. How would you fancy working 60 hours a week for 20p an hour? Consider dangerous conditions, labour laws that aren’t worth the paper on which they’re written and trade unions pushed out of the picture. It might seem remote, something that happens in far-flung lands, but these folk are producing clothes that end up in our shops and on our backs. And in the garment industry, it’s more often than not women and children that are being exploited.
Women frequently make up the majority of employees in garment sweatshops. Many factors contribute to this state of affairs, but it basically boils down to them being seen as easier to exploit. Nice, eh? They suffer abuse and harassment, as well as awful working conditions.
Child labour continues to be a major issue. There are literally millions of youngsters round the world in employment and missing out on formal education. We’re talking about kids between the ages of 5 and 11. The nearest they get to a school is maybe walking past one on the way to the factory.
In recent years, there’s been a lot of discussion regarding free trade agreements. There’ll no doubt be more in the future as Britain’s relationship with Europe and the rest of the world shifts position.
As much as these arrangements can be beneficial, they also carry risks. Especially for workers in vulnerable situations. Policies that protect people and the environment are all too easily undermined when such agreements are put into effect. Liberalisation of trade can generate big bucks and it can also see the downgrading of rights and standards. Corporate giants have, at times, been known to pay lip service to social responsibility and place more emphasis on balance sheets and bottom lines.
Making a Difference.
It’s easy to read about some problems and feel powerless. The sheer extent of them seems too huge to tackle. That’s not always the case and it doesn’t have to be like that with sweatshops. They aren’t inevitable. Social change is possible. If workforces are given the chance they can come together and organise. Proper trade unions and worker cooperatives are the solution. That’s why No Sweat supports and funds independent trade unions around the globe. Helping sweatshop workers fight for fairer working conditions and better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.
No Sweat is finding plenty of friends, not least in punk circles. Punk Ethics, an influential project that promotes the progressive elements of the global punk scene, are backing the No Sweat campaign for ethically sourced t-shirts (Punk against Sweatshops is something else to check out if this is striking a chord with you). No Sweat are already supplying t-shirts to some names you may recognise. Punk icon Steve Ignorant, Canadian political punk legends Propagandhi, London favourites Wonk Unit, and Scottish anarchos Oi Polloi.
To our way of thinking, fighting sweatshops is an almost perfect embodiment of the punk ethos, which in itself has always been bigger than punk. Bands and business will get onboard because the world is changing and, nowadays more than ever, causes can become irresistible. It won’t happen overnight, but we think it’s going to make a difference. With growing awareness, the rejection of repulsive working practices will spread.
Where does the responsibility ultimately sit? Is it with us as consumers for buying the products? Or the state-sized corporate machines that dominate our societies, creating and propagating the system? You can tie yourself up in knots trying to answer such questions. Don’t bother, content yourself with doing something small and significant.
Just choose the right t-shirt. The one you would choose if your mother or daughter was making it.
So …looking for ethical t-shirts? No Sweat at Fifth Column.