So I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned the inspiring Sarah Corbett before, but for those of you new to the game, Sarah runs the tireless Craftivist Collective in the UK, working hard to change the world for the better through slow activism.
There’s a number of statements in that sentence that need a little unpacking.
Craftivism is a growing worldwide movement where people look to use the skills and materials crafting provides to make their voices heard, using craft for activist purposes. Whether that’s private acts, such as knitting beanies for premature babies, or rugs and toys to donate to charity, or public acts such as Knit a River, a huge protest banner made from thousands of people’s knitted contributions, all around the world people are utalising craft for powerful purposes.
Changing the world is not as hard as it sounds, starting small is important. You personally might not be able to change a world leader’s mind about an issue, but you can start the discussion in your community. Communities can be strong influences on local government, local government can help change state governments, state governments have influence on federal governments and federal governments have the ear of other governments.
As a consumer you have power. I’m going to be honest, as a single consumer you don’t have a lot of power, but you have some. And you and your friends have more power, and you and your generation have the power to change things.
Don’t ever feel like you as a single person can’t change the world. Because remember, there are millions of people out there, jsut like you, adding their voice to the roaring crowd.
Slow activism is giving yourself the time to sit and make and think. It’s about not rushing everywhere and making as a side project while watching telly or at a lecture, it’s about dedicating a block of time to sit and make and muse on what it is your doing and why. Sarah Corbett encouraged people who are sewing one of her mini protest banners, or contributing to the #imapiece campaign to sit and think about the issues involved and where the crafter stands on them. Each of her kits include information about the issues to help the crafter understand the bigger picture. Sarah talks more about the idea of slow activism in this blog post, which I’d encourage you all to read.
But so to the Craftivist Collective’s latest campaign, #minifashionprotest in which Sarah encourages you to add your voice in protest at sweat shops and the terrible working conditions women endure in third world countries to make the clothes on sale in stores around the world. It’s not right that workers are paid only cents a day and forced to work in horrible conditions while high end fashion stores sell those jeans for exorbitant amounts of money, it’s not right that people are forced to work in such dangerous conditions that they are maimed or killed such as the building collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1000 workers so that people in western countries have access to cheap tshirts.
Love fashion but hate sweatshops? Add your voice to the growing surge around the world demanding accountability to the international corporations which are responsible for these tragic conditions. In Australia, out of all the major retail chains only Kmart has promised to reveal where it’s factories are. However, that was at the start of July and as yet, they have not issued any further statement actually revealing where they are.
Retailers need to be held accountable for the conditions of the factories that supply them with their wares. Retailers are businesses and sadly, it’s only going to happen if there’s more profit in being accountable than what they’re doing currently. This means you need to add your voice to the crowd.
As I sit here, I’m wearing jeans made in China, a tshirt made in China, a spenser made in China, underwear and socks made in China and a bra made in China. My boots and cardigan were also made somewhere, but the identifying tags have worn away. When things are “Made in China” (or Thailand, or Bangladesh, or anywhere) they are not made in giant factories by huge machines, they are sewn by people. Who where the people who the clothes I’m wearing today, who made all the clothes in my wardrobe, in my partners wardrobe, in my sisters? How were they treated? How much were they paid to make the $70 jeans I’m wearing?
I made the decision long ago to purchase as much as I could from second hand stores and op shops, as a way of attempting to remove myself as much as I could from the toxic sweatshop treadmill, but I still buy my underwear from retailers. Who are the people who sew these items? I wear their work every day and have no idea how they’re treated, how they’re paid and if they had go through hell just for my cotton socks.
This is why I’m joining the Craftivist Collective’s #Minifashionprotest. I want to ensure that the people who are making these clothes have a safe working environment and are paid enough to live the life they’d like.
I don’t want the phrase “slaves to the fashion industry” to be actually true. If you feel like this too, grab a kit from the Craftivist Collective’s Etsy site, sew a mini protest banner and attach it somewhere visible. Send Sarah a photo of it to add your voice to the protest and help change the world for the better.
Photo of Sarah from CraftyCrafty Tv