Photo: Eleni Terzitane, Young Media Sweden.

Guest chronicle

"It would be irresponsible of young people to turn a blind eye to the problem"

I have been politically active for some time and belong to a party that does not shy away from putting the interests of entrepreneurs first. There is an idea in some circles I move in, that companies and industries are what move society forward and that it should be used as an argument for companies to operate undisturbed. Personally, I believe in companies, I believe in the culture that characterizes entrepreneurship because I believe that it creates a will to drive society forward. On the other hand, I think it would be irresponsible to turn a blind eye to the reality that many workers around the world have.

The Fair Wear Foundation has produced statistics that show that seamstresses in India only earn a single kroner for each t-shirt that is produced and sold in stores for around SEK 100. Many large companies that you and I buy our clothes and products from, have a large part of their production in, for example, India and are responsible for the type of environment their employees work in. This is a responsibility that many companies have obviously failed with. In fact, it is easy to turn a blind eye to this problem. I do it many times myself, but we must not forget that this is about vulnerable people trying to make a living at work. 

Every time you buy an item from a company that may have just "accidentally" ignored the fact that their seamstresses work for almost slave wages, you are helping to keep it that way. Today there is a culture, especially among many young people, that is about wanting to make a difference. We have seen it with all the climate demonstrations, the "Black Lives Matter" movement, Fridays For Future and #metoo in recent years. Don't get me wrong, it is of the utmost importance that young people dare to go out and say no, and say stop, but there is a risk that very often they stop at the very word stop.

Large parts of the mentioned campaigns are based on the idea that a share on Instagram, a text on Twitter or a post on Facebook makes a difference. However, I want to say that there are other, more concrete ways to make a difference for other people. I think there are many young people today who see injustices around society and who have a drive within them to make a difference but who may not really know how. Choosing a store where you buy your clothes is a good example of a small act that can make a significant difference to others. 

There is also another very concrete way that young people today can make a difference for other people connected to the clothing industry. By putting pressure on the companies that manufacture the products we buy in the store, each individual, regardless of age, gender or money in the account, can with small funds make a big difference for other people. Select products from companies whose employees work under precarious working conditions. Put pressure on companies to actually invest in a safe and secure work environment for their employees and try to find out if it's worth buying that item on sale when you know that the person who sewed it earns less than one percent of what you pay. for it. 

It has certainly become clear that I believe in each individual's opportunity to make a difference for other people and it is important that more young people dare to take that opportunity. The project: "We shop, who pays?" run by the organization Fair Action, is about just that. I want more young people to understand that everyone can make a difference globally. By developing methods and approaches to review and put pressure on companies to act more sustainably, we can through the project make more young people realize that it is possible to change. 

We all have a power that we exercise every time we draw our card at the checkout of a store, that power is called consumer power. It is the power to show companies through consumption that their business and products are good. We need to use the same power to show companies that they need to change and improve, in order to keep their customers. I am incredibly happy to be part of the project and I hope to be able to get more young people to dare to take the power to change. 

About Fair Action and the project "We shop, who pays?"

Fair Action and Ung Media have started a project where high school students will learn to independently review companies. The purpose is to broaden and deepen students' knowledge in sustainability issues so that they can put pressure on companies to take responsibility for their impact on people and the environment around the world. Fair Action works to ensure that every employee around the world receives a living wage.
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