Sweatshop-Free Gifts For The Holidays

Last month I told you how to buy union-made treats for Halloween. But now Christmas is coming, and that means even more shopping — and for a wide range of stuff beyond just chocolates.

With the rise of globalization and outsourcing, the shopper’s dilemma is especially acute when buying clothes. You don’t want your holiday shopping dollars enriching an absentee CEO who takes advantage of the North Pole’s weak labor regulations to force his workers to churn out product night and day year-round. (His apologists will tell you he’s “jolly.” But there’s nothing jolly about a repetitive stress injury.)

What’s a conscientious consumer to do?

Never fear! The International Labor Rights Forum and SweatFree Communities have stepped into the breach with the latest edition of their Shop With a Conscience Consumer Guide, which lists tons of places you can buy sweatshop-free clothing for everyone on your list. And their 2010 Sweatshop Hall of Shame is a handy list of retail outlets that don’t deserve your business until the way they treat the men and women who make their products moves from “naughty” to “nice”.

They’ve even got these materials available as PDF brochures (Consumer Guide, Hall of Shame), suitable for printing out and taking with you to the mall. Heck, you could even print out some extra copies and hand them out to other shoppers while you’re there, you know?

So this year, don’t give lumps of coal to the men and women who make the gifts you give — shop sweatshop-free!

*This post originally appeared in Change to Win on November 17, 2009. Reprinted with permission from the author.

About the Author Jason Lefkowitz: is the Online Campaigns Organizer for Change to Win, a partnership of seven unions and six million workers united together to restore the American Dream for everybody. He built his first Web site in 1995 and has been building online communities professionally since 1998. To read more of his work, visit the Change to Win blog, CtW Connect, at http://www.changetowin.org/connect.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.