Radiohead v Child Labor. Green Consumers v Made in Asia.

Via elephant journal
on Mar 9, 2010
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radiohead child labor music video mtv

Two Boys: Left Screen one life, Right Screen another life. (wait for it)

Most of my favorite companies: TOMS, Whole Foods, Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, Nau, prAna, Apple—are Made in a Land Far, Far Away.

ed’s note: I welcome clarification from the companies mentioned below.

I encourage them to share the fair labor/child labor guidelines they observe and honor with our readers.

Even if they’ve decided that pricepoint and sourcing their goods halfway across the world (not very “green”) are compromises they have to make in order to be a viable business, I hope that they, like Patagonia and Eileen Fisher, go to great lengths to ensure fair labor (click here for Patagonia’s transparent, informative look on why they choose to make their wares half a world away) in the Chinese, Vietnamese etc. factories they use.

Nothing will win the loyalty of we—the conscious consumers take make up the LOHAS market—like knowing that our favorite companies are trying to do the right thing. ~ed.

patagonia footprint chronicles made in china vietnam usa eco green


Most of my fave companies make their wares in the 3rd World. WTF?

I got chills watching the video below (on a green-ish Apple laptop, while wearing stylee prAna hemp pants [Made in China] with an American Apparel shirt + underwear [Made in USA, fair labor], and second-hand New Balance shoes [fair labor]).

Many so-called eco-responsible, liberal-loved companies—Apple, Whole Foods, prAna, Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, Nau—make/get their stuff in China, Vietnam… But don’t worry! The factories are supervised.

TOMS Shoes

Many companies, however, don’t even bother with fair labor certification. Like, as far as I can tell (and I hope to be wrong, will update this as I learn more), TOMS, the hipster, socially-progressive shoe company that puts photos of its founder giving shoes to developing world shoeless children—makes their shoes in the third world, in factories that could include child labor.

Anyways: pictures, video, music is worth a thousand words. This video gave me chills. Kudos to MTV and Radiohead for their work on this brilliant video:

Are you angry? Do you want your favorite companies to be Made in the USA, or anywhere that enforces strict, enlightened labor codes? And are you willing to pay for it?

Then say so.

Because if we aren’t, then we have only ourselves to blame, ultimately.


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17 Responses to “Radiohead v Child Labor. Green Consumers v Made in Asia.”

  1. via
    but even if its "made in america" it can still be made overseas in sweatshops that are located somewhere that is sort of American. Also, if you can guarantee its made in America it can still be made in sweatshops because there are sweatshops all over america, specifically L.A. and NYC. And, there are factories that are located in other countries that do not exploit the labor force, in any way; Often, they are located outside of America to avoid taxes and what not. It's really quite difficult to have a clear idea of where products come from and how they are made.

    One more thing, someone I know from High School works for a company that has all of their products made in China, I got really angry with him because his job is to go to China and make sure the factories are doing what they are being paid to do…so he is going to check out sweatshops and then walk away! He told me some of the factories are perfectly fine and some aren't at all…here is the tricky part…a collar for one jacket is made in one sweatshop but the sleeves for that same jacket are made in a different factory that is totally fine and then maybe the zippers come from someplace else that is questionable…who knew one piece of clothing can be manufactured in multiple factories?

    Sorry for the long post, I've just spent a lot of time looking into sweatshops and even companies like American Apparel have questionable factories. Sigh…. See More

    I feel like people should just buy second hand, always, and that way they aren't directly supporting any of the big name monsters and they are also helping out small second hand businesses. Or make your own clothing. Or buy less. Or, or, or, or, or……

    Darrin B
    Amy – I am a strong advocate for second hand as well. It seems to address multiple needs for me – I shop local; the chemicals have outgassed; I am not sending any messages to manufacturers to increase supply, based on demand; I decrease out-of-pocket costs; it is a sustainable model; it prevents landfill/trash possibilities; and at 5'4", I benefit from lots of shrunken, yet stylish clothing:)

    I'm with you, Darrin, & almost never buy new clothes, don't really care if I look funky 😉

    Ehron Asher
    In the last 10 years I think I've maybe purchased 5 pieces of clothing brand new. Everything else is second hand… for all the reasons Darrin said.

  2. Mike says:

    Part of the issue is that every country that is trying to develop will use every one of its resources to the fullest extent it can – as long as that country thinks it can get away with it. It has happend in the European countries, it happened in America, It has happened in every industrialized country in the world. The countries labor pool is a very valuable resource.

    Does it make it right? No. The children work because they feel they have to, or their parents make them. Think of all the job openings there would be for the unemployed parents if they children didn’t work.

    On the same side, if the companies currently doing business in [insert country here] pulled up their roots and bailed, the situation would be even worse. A fair business practice, transparency and accountability are the most important things for a company that may (or may not) get my business.

  3. Mary C. says:

    I think economy and education must work together to promote sustainability at home and abroad. Companies that outsource labor do so to save money. As a countries work force gets more empowered, the ability to exploit them decreases. I prefer to purchase (and sell) from companies that have fair labor practices and US based manufacturing but my American Apparel tees are 25% more expensive than my Hanes tees, and not everyone can make that choice. When you have a kid outgrowing or ruining clothes every other week during a horrible recession, pennies count. Sweatshops aren't evil. The advantage we take through unfair wages, poor conditions, or systematic abuse is evil.

  4. helen says:

    I had this conversation with an Indian woman from Orissa once, she said- that if the children dont work, they really dont have anything to do, there are often no schools that they can afford to attend ,and that this is how those children learn a trade. Often one child in a family works supporting another to attend school. With out a free educational infrastructure present, outlawing child labour is meaningless and detrimental as it only becomes less regulated .

  5. Jeanne says:

    Excellent. What a great way to drive this message home. I think it's very important to expose our children to these realities. They are being brainwashed everywhere they turn. It seems as each year goes by one area of education that is not failing in public schools is in their unconscious education of consumerism. From book sales, to fundraisers our kids are constantly being bombarded with the message of "buy, buy, buy!" We WILL NOT change this culture of consumerism and exploitation of third world economies in the name of cheap products, if we don't educate our kids. THEY need to know where their goods are coming from.

  6. joshua says:

    Not Pangea….not only are we made in Colorado and Taos, but we source near 50% of our raw materials from the US….unheard of in the beauty industry….did I mention we pay a living wage and full health care?

    when we as a culture learn how to Buycott, we will see the true change we are looking for….onward and upward.

    yes this was shameless promotion….


  7. Cliff says:

    I always look to buy what I believe in. I would rather feed the dream than feed the Machine.

  8. […] beyond the choir and to the masses. While I wish he’d step up once again and do for Made in the USA what he did for organic cotton in the 90s, he still ranks right up there, in my experience, with my Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa and a […]

  9. more from
    Please support by commenting. Took me a full year to get the cajones to write the above, and if I didn't express this clearly this could kill some ad support for ele, but it's important for someone in green media to put it out there, and ask the obvious.

    Good going Josh!
    2 hours ago · · Report
    Joshua Scott Onysko
    thanks Cliff…and thank you WAY for having the bells to ring for this…if we really want change we need to sacrifice…
    Thanks, Josh, for the props. I was literally shaking in my New Balances after writing it. Will cost me something in ad dollars if I didn't say it precisely.

    And, more to the point, thanks Josh for dotting your i's and crossing your t's as a mindful business. Proud of what you've accomplished, as a mindful business. You've won a lot of brand loyalty from "conscious consumers." It's the best soap! Lip balm! Etc.!

  10. […] to the business world that one can be hugely profitable while being Made in the USA (unlike most of our other favorite companies), offering creat cuts and classic styles in sometimes-organic cotton, offering free ESL classes to […]

  11. […] copying into their business model). 2. Forever 21 has also been taken to court repeatedly for unfair labor laws. One worker alleged that she earned “four dollars per hour working 10 hours a day six days a […]

  12. […] all heard the mountains of reasons to buy American: Fair labor practices, support of relatively local businesses, reduced carbon footprint… But how realistic is it to […]

  13. […] For more on Made in the USA, click here. […]

  14. @lisa_heinze says:

    I'm an advocate for sustainable and ethical fashion. I agree that Patagonia's transparency is to be commended, and more organizations must head in this direction. Calling for all clothing and garments to be made in the USA (or other developed nations) is not the answer, however, as this would take valuable income away from people in the world who need it most. The best action for us today is to demand ethical practices from all our favorite brands – we must become more active and take the steps to contact these companies, instead of just hoping they will fix themselves. I do believe in the power of voting with your wallet, but we need to be more active and speak with our words as well.

  15. There are many overseas companies that are ethical, sustainable and are treating their people fairly. We run an overseas business and we work with families. giving them a livable wage so their children can go to school, so they can feed and house them, so they do not have to go work in undesirable factories in the cities.
    I believe it is up to the consumer to at least try and gain some knowledge as to where the goods they buy come from. Teach your children or big business and bad media will.