For many years now, we writers at Irregular Times have kept our effort afloat and started new efforts like That’s My Congress by putting liberal t-shirts up for sale. We have only sold shirts made in the USA because in the United States there are clearly defined labor and workspace protections, and because American Apparel goes above and beyond those standards in its domestic production facilities. According to a report last year by the U.S. Department of Labor, clothing production in a number of countries overseas is riddled with child labor and forced labor. Other sweatshop abuses in the shirt industry overseas are common even when kids and forced labor aren’t involved. These shirts are then shipped huge distances across the Pacific Ocean on leaky, oily barges, leading to increased environmental costs. We refuse to take part in that kind of a production system. We choose local shirts made in a system that better protects workers.
At the same time, it will be hard for the unequal cross-national distribution of wealth to be alleviated, and for overseas poverty to relent, if Americans keep all of their wealth within their borders. We are committed to maintaining our ethical parameters in t-shirt sales, but we want to do something extra to counteract the downside of that choice. So starting this past January, for every t-shirt we’ve sold through our online shop at Skreened, Irregular Times has pledged a dollar in the form of Kiva microloans to developing world. We’re not making these microloans in order to obtain more income: any proceeds we receive from these microloans will be reinvested into more microloans and more overseas development.
Our latest microloan goes to Sylivia Tibabwerayo of Uganda, who runs her own general store. With this microloan she will buy merchandise to sell at her shop and help provide for her family with four schoolchildren.