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What’s the real cost?

Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post.
Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post.

You’re out shopping and you find that cute sweater that’s everything you’ve ever wanted. You go to check the price tag and its music to your ears. But maybe you should stop checking the price tag, and start paying more attention to the clothing label. More and more young adults and families on low income tend to flock to much cheaper stores such as Walmart, Forever 21, and H&M because of their low prices. But recent reports by Business Insider and the Huffington Post  have come out that the above stores and many others rely on overseas slave labor to mass produce and keep prices low.

With these reports, ethical questions have been  raised. Ever increasingly, activists have called for people to boycott these companies, including Nike and Victoria’s Secret. But for many people the pull between cheap clothes and an ethical conscience is a difficult decision.

The decision between money and morality seems pretty simple, on paper it should be a moral conscious right? But this questions gets a little more complicated when you factor in lower income families and young adults who rely on minimum wage jobs to get by.

Far more often, it’s a choice between food and scraping by. Walmart, while the bane of some’s existence, is the safe haven for others. Their low prices is what helps keep the less affluent afloat.

That being said, what about all those people overseas, treated essentially as slaves and paid far below our minimum wage? Just because it isn’t in our country and in our face, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. In addition, many people are unaware of which companies to avoid because they aren’t exactly advertising it on their front doors.

People tend to pick money over morality because it’s convenient. They think every fair trade and eco friendly company is too expensive or they aren’t aware they exist because they aren’t  an easily accessible  store in the mall.

So where does this leave us? Unfortunately there is a solution people may not want to hear: research. Find what stores to avoid but more importantly, find cheap alternatives. While it may take some time, you’ll discover jewels like Krochet Kids and Shift To Nature. These companies offer ethically sourced labor as well as quality materials. While the prices won’t compare to that of H&M, they aren’t outrageous.

I choose morality over money. I would rather pay a couple extra dollars for a shirt that is just as cute, unique, and isn’t hurting a young girl who is stuck in a factory when she should be in school. At the end of the day, you need to know the real cost of that $10 tee, and you have to decide if you’re willing to pay it.

About Lindy Verhage

Lindy Verhage
Lindy is a Junior at MC and the Sun's Features Editor. She is chronically indecisive, obsessed with big dogs and a pro-napper. She hopes to achieve the soul of Hughes, the style of Hepburn, the intellect of Franklin, and the joy of a dog.

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