by Olivia Parker
Now that most of us are old enough to have the freedom to choose where we spend our money, it’s important to trust the companies we are giving our money to. When we buy goods or services from certain brands, we are indirectly promoting the causes they support as well. For example, you could be supporting cheap labor in foreign countries, discriminatory actions, or animal testing. On the other hand, it is also good to support the brands you do agree with like female empowerment, environmental safety, and feeding the hungry. Here is some important information about select brands and companies to consider when making decisions about where to shop.
H&M and Gap – Sweatshops and racially insensitive clothing
Imagine working in a Cambodian clothing factory, sewing clothes for roughly 50 cents per hour. You are forced to work long hours in a hot room packed full of other women and children. You and other workers faint frequently and any possible strikes are shut down by authorities. You are trapped in a job that provides for your family, but will not help you escape poverty. Major clothing brands like H&M and Gap are guilty of supporting sweatshops, primarily in Cambodia, with similar conditions. These companies can sell their clothes for as little as $25 because of the outsourced cheap labor in developing countries.
In recent news, H&M has also had another press scandal concerning it’s new release of a boy’s hoodie. The serious reputation crisis emerged after the image of a small black boy modeling a sweatshirt emblazoned with “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hit social media. H&M came out and explained that it was a result of internal procedures not being followed properly, but it quickly turned into a racially insensitive nightmare. The Weeknd, a musician and collaborator with H&M, recently announced he is cutting ties with the store in the wake of the incident.
Clorox – animal testing
The Clorox Company, which specializes in cleaning products, has been present in many of our homes since 1913. They have products to clean your bathroom, kitchen, wood products, and just about anywhere in your house. Since they do sell products with chemicals for cleaning and human contact, they must make sure they are safe for their consumers to use. This includes testing them for incidental and accidental reactions to skin, eyes, ingestion, and inhalation, occasionally using animals. On their website, TheCloroxCompany.com, they explain that animal testing is the last resort and used only if all other efforts to ensure safety are exhausted. However, the company is currently working towards a future where animal testing has no role in product development. They believe companies should be able to use existing data and alternative tests so animals are not involved in product-safety testing.
Abercrombie and Fitch – Weight discrimination
One type of discrimination still prevalent in the U.S. is weight discrimination. Abercrombie & Fitch’s chief executive, Michael Jeffries, admitted that his company designed clothes no larger than size 10 to target “cool kids’’ in a 2006 interview with Salon magazine. When challenged by The National Eating Disorders Association who believed this encouraged eating disorders, like anorexia, in customers wanting to fit into their clothes, the company stayed silent. It is important to know, especially now that we buy most of our own clothes, that when you buy clothing from a store you are supporting a certain attitude put on by that store.
Clif Bar, Patagonia, and New Balance– Environmentally friendly
Here are three brands that a majority of us own and love: Clif Bar, Patagonia, and New Balance Athletics. All of these companies publicly strive to make the Earth a better place. Clif Bar and Company’s Co-owner, Kit Crawford, says the company’s goal is to create “the kind of place that makes the kind of food we’d like to eat, and that strives for a healthier, more sustainable world.” Clif Bar sources quality, mostly organic ingredients from farmers and other suppliers that uses fair labor practices. The next company on this list, Patagonia, uses recycled and environmentally friendly materials in its clothing, as well as energy and environmentally efficient stores and facilities. They also donate at least 1 percent of company sales to various grassroots environmental groups across the globe. Also, while your Patagonia is keeping you warm in the winter, it will last longer and stay out of the landfills due to the Company’s Worn Wear Program. Lastly, New Balance Athletics is changing the way the sneaker industry runs with its reduced use of harmful chemicals. It’s kind of a buzzkill to hear that your fresh pair of sneakers were made using chemicals that are hazardous to the environment, so to counteract this problem, New Balance has created a special team in their company tasked with keeping tabs on harmful chemicals used in production, and finding ways to prevent restricted substances from entering factories. These are just a few examples of companies that are making an effort to better the planet by doing their part to keep it clean.
Always– #LikeAGirl campaign
We all know the brand Always as a reliable source for feminine hygiene products. In the past three years, they have launched a campaign to empower the very people that use their products- girls. Studies show that when girls hit puberty, 80 percent of them feel the societal pressure to be perfect and never fail. This fear of failure inhibits girls from trying new things and setting big goals. Always wanted to boost a girl’s confidence at the time they need it most, when they begin the daunting journey of womanhood. Part of their campaign was a commercial in which they portray their mission to encourage girls everywhere to embrace failures as fuel to build confidence and keep going #LikeAGirl.
Tacos4Life is a restaurant with a great assortment of unique and tasty taco flavors that was started in Arkansas. The quality that makes this restaurant unique is its mission to give back on the global stage through their Meal4Meal program. They have decided to help solve one of the world’s greatest problems- hunger. Tacos4Life donates the funds necessary to Feed My Starving Children to purchase one meal for every meal sold in the restaurant. They also work with organizations in countries like Honduras, Haiti, Belize, Dominican Republic, and Swaziland where children face economic and health challenges.