In suburban areas you tend to find people waking up at 6am, jogging around the town, and sitting down for their morning latte without a care in the world. These early morning folk are socially conscious for whatever reason (normally the need to be a part of a fad) and will only drink fair trade coffee, eat organic food, and essentially shun anything that when eaten could have a negative impact on their body or moral conscience. Now it should be said that this is a good thing, at least for whatever reason people are actively saying ‘no’ to consumables that could have possibly been produced by unfair labor or with something not fit for human consumption. But these polo wearing, latte drinking, organic loving people are forgetting that the majority of their clothing remains products of child labor and are very, very far from anything organic.
Cotton, the most ubiquitous ingredient in just about every form of clothing: polo t shirts, graphic tees, cargo pants, plaid shorts, canvas bags, and even messenger bags all contain some amount of cotton. The majority of the cotton contained in these objects is synthetic, meaning that they are grown with artificial chemical substances unlike their organic brethren. These non-naturally occurring materials such as pesticides and plant stimulants are not only harmful to the environment, but degrade the quality of the shirt over all. The pesticides are washed off of the plant during the rain and seep into nearby water systems and contaminate surrounding areas killing off plant an animal life. But it’s not just the animals in danger! No, the farmers who have to use the pesticides are normally without the proper equipment and can suffer from lung cancer and other diseases and ailments from being exposed to the chemical substances for too long.
The Polo T shirt, something we’ve all come to enjoy as a symbol for American Prepiness, stability, and other positive symbols; however it is easy to not notice that not only do these shirts suffer from synthetic cotton, but they are more than likely not part of the fair trade movement. Fair trade can be simply defined as people in areas of the world being paid fair wages for their work to uplift their living and educational systems. Non-fair trade countries such as China are more than likely where your shirts come from; China being one of the top havens for child labor and violations of human rights laws. It’s easy to overlook where your clothing comes from because it’s not something that you have to ingest like food; however, for all of those socially conscious latte drinkers out there, you might want to consider just where that polo t shirt came from before wearing it in the morning.