Why Fair Trade is So Important


(crowd clamoring) (acoustic guitar music) – The garment industry is broken. People would be shocked if they saw what goes
on in their factories. It really chances the way
you think about clothing, when you consider the
people in the process. But because there’s no
visibility when you buy garments, you are just oblivious to it. – [Newscaster] The Rana Plaza complex, which housed a textile
factory, collapsed last week, killing 400.
– Rescue workers in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka are continuing to hunt for survivors. – [Newscaster] Today’s disaster is unlikely to slow a booming industry which thrives on the
world’s lowest labor costs. – When factories collapse,
we hear about it. When factory fires kill
workers, we hear about it. – The grinding long days,
the difficulties they face, we don’t hear about that. It touches something we don’t
want to talk about a lot, which is, poorly paid
people living in places where they don’t have
a lot of opportunity. That’s a hard subject to talk about. (acoustic guitar music) – The root of the problem
is corporate greed. It’s companies trying to maximize profit by selling as much, for
as little as possible, to consumers who are willing
to buy those products. – More and more Americans are awakening to the reality that there are responsible, sustainable alternatives
to sweatshop products. – Your purchasing decisions
can affect the lives of workers around the world. We look at fair trade as the first step in a very long journey towards getting wage equity in the supply chain. (acoustic guitar music ends,
last note reverberates) (speaking in a foreign language) (men’s choir singing
in a foreign language) (speaking in a foreign language) (bus rumbling over the road) (machines humming) – My name is Chamara De Silva. I’m the general manager
of Hirdaramani Mihila. We are making mainly tops,
jackets, t-shirts, pants. We are unloading the fabric. It’s from the fabric supplier that’s from Taiwan. This will spread the fabric. They will drive the cutter for the design. So after cutting, it will be numbered and then it will be inspected. There are 1,400 people
working in my factory. It’s about 78% women and about 22% men. Piece by piece, one person will be doing only one operation. She checks the garment,
whether it is good or bad. 98.8% is good. At the end of the line, packed in box, the completed goods go out. – So there are a lot
of factories out there that do an amazing job. Right now the problem
is that those factories that are performing at
a more sustainable level simply don’t have an effective way to compete with the bottom-feeders, with the bad factories. Bad labor practices look
pretty much the same. A common theme is bad
treatment of workers, low wages, unsafe factories, and pollution of the environment around those factories. We live in the age of globalization. Farmers and factory
workers around the world are going to be plugged
into the global market in one way or another and so for me the question is, are they victims of the global market? Or are they being included in the benefits of globalization? – Fair trade in the garment industry is a fairly new concept. Typically it’s associated
with other products, like chocolate, tea, and coffee. For a factory to become
Fair Trade Certified, the factory works hard towards meeting Fair Trade standards. When brands join the program, they agree to pay a premium on top of the cost of the item. – The good news is those workers receive that money directly. It doesn’t even go through management. The workers set up their own bank account, they manage those funds directly, they get to vote on whether
or not to distribute that money as a bonus or
start a scholarship program or build a daycare center. – We are working with about eight brands in this Mihila factory. Patagonia were the one and only brand approved for fair trade. So we learned about the fair trade and then we discussed what this is, what are the benefits,
what is the purpose. Impression was really superb. (speaking a foreign language) We met here with the employee council, and one of the most, most important proposals was the daycare. I can remember the day I
went to see the daycare because it was one of the
happiest moments in my life. I mean, it was amazing, you know. I saw the laughter, I saw the smiles. (children singing) More than anyone, mothers
were really happy. They can concentrate on work because they know that their
children are in safe hands. – (speaking a foreign language) – The industry has an
opportunity to take a stance and try to provide a better,
more positive way of living for a lot of people around the world. – We have to prove the business case for responsible business. If it’s just a philanthropic or a philosophical endeavor, it won’t scale. We have to prove that fair trade is good for business. – Patagonia is really ramping
up our program quickly. In fall ’14, we had 11 fair
trade certified styles. In fall ’16, we’re gonna be at 200, and in fall ’17, we’re
gonna be at 300 styles, and that’s 30% of our product line. (studious violin music) – We envision farmers and workers becoming architects of their own future. We’re helping workers not just improve their lives but also find their voice. The results go way beyond
just $30,000 a year to this factory or $50,000 to that factory and the projects that they do with that but underneath that and above that is this invisible dividend from Fair Trade. It’s all about hope and pride and dignity and self-confidence. (pensive instrumental music) (reading aloud in a foreign language) (speaking in a foreign language) (vehicle honks horn) (cheerful acoustic guitar music) (speaking a foreign language) – In a world where two billion people live on two dollars a day,
we clearly have our work cut out for us. – [Cara Chacon] I think
it’s really easy for people to forget that there are
people behind everything that we buy in the supply chain and that hands actually touch it. We’re not just here to make a product. It’s about sending a message to the world that eventually no factory has workers that are exploited. I mean, that just should not be tolerated in this day and age. We need to keep the pressure on so that every brand is doing this. – [Woman In Blue Shirt] We
just want to sweep the effects of thoughtless consumption
under the carpet, and we can because we don’t
have to think about it. That’s the invisible story behind the products that we buy. We have to keep asking the hard questions and challenge ourselves. There’s an easy route
and there’s a hard route that involves doing the right thing. (bright, hopeful music)

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