Hey guys, happy February and welcome to another Fashion Factfiles blogpost!
The Fashion Factfiles is where we expose the brutal realities of the garment industry, the side that the big corporations and big names in fashion work hard to hide behind ‘girl power’ tees and ‘look at us recycling omg we duz care’ campaigns.
This month we’ll be highlighting an issue that many may not be familiar with, but is absolutely horrific and heartbreaking: the Sumangali System.
WARNING: Content regarding sexual abuse and suicide throughout.
Hey guys! Happy October and welcome to another monthly exposé!
This month I am exposing a worldwide fave, a multinational corporation that brings joy and cavities to people of all ages, races etc.
Can’t lie, I’m not surprised by the content I found regarding their corrupt past and present. However, I am really quite shocked by the extent to which CC has destroyed lives all around the world. Article after article, there’s a lot to take in.
In order to make this a bit more digestible, I’ve summarised everything to the best of my abilty, and provided links if you’re eager to find out more.
Anyways, let’s get straight into it.
Bottling plants require a large amount of water, 1.9L of water required to make one small bottle of Coca-Cola. This doesn’t even cover all of it, as growing the sugar cane used in their drinks results in an extra 400 litres of water to make a bottle of Cola.
CC has faced crisis in India, due to their mismanagement of water in the country. It has systemically rinsed villages of their water resources, leaving them with little or toxic water resources. It continues to operate bottling plants in places where the demand for water already exceeds the amount of water available, and proposes new plants in areas where communities already have limited access to safe drinking water.
However, activists have been taking a stand against Coca Cola. And they’ve succeeded:
In March this year, it was reported that 1m traders in Tamil Nadu, India, were boycotting Coca-Cola and Pepsi drinks after two Indian trade associations called them out for exploiting India’s water resources.
“These foreign companies are using up scarce water resources of the state,” K Mohan, secretary of the Vanigar Sangam, one of the associations supporting the boycott.
Indeed, in January, Tamil Nadu had been declared by officials as ‘drought-hit’, with many villagers suffering as a result.
“[Foreign companies] are exploiting the state’s water bodies to manufacture aerated drinks while farmers were facing severe drought.”Vikram Raja, president of the Vanigar Sangam trade association.
This bold boycott spread to Kerala, where traders also decided to ban the sale of Coca Cola and Pepsi. It was decided that when the boycott was officially approved, sales of beverages and tender coconut produced by locals would be promoted instead. The government was in support of this, and stated it would further restrict the use of groundwater at Palakkad, Kerala.
The region of Plachimada in Palakkad was particularly affected by CC’s activities. A bottling plant was built there in 1999, and CC were permitted to extract up to 1.5mL of water, as well as extract ground water to meet its demands of 3.8L of water for 1L of cola. This led to a decline in the quality of groundwater, with high concentrations of calcium and magnesium ions in the water. The by-product of this was initially sold to villagers as fertiliser However, in 2003, it was found that it contained high levels of toxic metals and the carcinogen cadmium. These problems were extremely problematic to the people living in this region.
“The area’s farming industry has been devastated and jobs, as well as the health of the local people, have been put at risk.”
The reality of the situation can be understood most harrowingly when referring to the account of K Kanniamma, a 70 year old who lived in Plachimada village.
“Before the factory opened here we were dependent on our water requirements on our well. Once the factory opened the water level in the wells started going down.
Initially, we did not know the reason for it. When we used that water, our eyes and skin had a burning sensation. Only then we realised that our water had been poisoned.”
70-year-old Kanniamma recounts a time from before the Coca-Cola factory when they had sweet water in their wells
Public anger led to villagers forming the ‘Coca-Cola Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samithy,’ a body fighting for the closure of the factory in Plachimada, in 2002. Awareness camps and torchlight vigils were organised, resulting in several villagers picketing the factory. As a result, Coca-Cola slapped charges against the leaders.
Listening to the locals, the local self-government organisation (the Perumatty Panchayat) refused to renew CC’s license on account of the exploitation of natural resources thet had affected the public. However, CC then approached the government’s Local Self-Government Department, who overruled the banning of their licence, and allowed them to continue its operations, as long as it found alternative sources of water supply. Members of the Coca-Cola Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samithy continued to be active and in 2004, the plant in Plachimada was shut. Finally, the 12-year old case reached closure when Coca-Cola gave up its license, stating that it did not intend to resume production from Plachimadia. The activists had succeeded.
But wait, it gets even better.
In March 2010, a High Power Committee established by the state government of Kerala recommended that CC be fined the equivalent of $48m for damages caused as a result of the company’s bottling operations in Plachimadia. The report stated:
“It is obligatory that they pay the compensation to the affected people for the agricultural losses, health problems, loss of wages, loss of educational opportunities, and the pollution caused to the water resources.”
The report clarified that the compensation suggested did not include damages caused by the reduction in water, and that such damages must be assessed.
The report also agreed that Coca-Cola should be held criminally liable for its actions in Plachimada.
India’s activists have proved the power of the people. The very fact that they got their governments to stand up against a multinational corporation such as CC is honestly one of the most inspiring things I have ever read.
According to findings from this year, CC made limited efforts to tackle forced labour risks in their sugarcane supply chain. This includes a high risk of debt bondage imposed on workers in India and human trafficking risks in Guatemala.
For example, CC was unable to provide an example of grievance procedures carried out (procedures where workers could complain about working conditions) when labour abuses were identified. This indicated that workers/suppliers were not properly instructed on complaint procedures. There was also little law enforcement or contracts to protect workers.
Agricultural workers, particularly migrants were most at risk. Indeed, Brazil and India, the two largest sugarcane producers in the world, rely on mostly migrants and rural workers with little education. Workers manually harvest sugarcane under hazardous working conditions, long working hours, and low wages. Lack of language skills and education leave these workers further vulnerable to exploitation and deception over work and wages.
CC was unable to commit to its agreement in 2013 to disclose the names of all its direct sugarcane suppliers within three years. This would enable researchers to conduct extensive research regarding the working conditions under CC’s suppliers.
CC has been a staunch supporter of Israel and it’s illegal occupation of Palestine.
In 2009, CC hosted a special reception at their headquarters to honour General Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who served as Israeli Defence Minister under Ariel Sharon and was in charge of the storming of a refugee camp in 2002, leaving hundreds of Palestinians dead.
Every year, CC financially supports the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Awards which honors companies that have contributed most to the Israeli economy. In 2009, a CC sponsored award went to the lobbying group AIPAC for its lobbying of the American Senate to reject the UN call for immediate ceasefire and support the continuation of the Israeli assault on Gaza.
Most recently, it has been operating in Atarot and Shadmot Mehola illegal settlements. Israel has been building illegal settlements on Palestinian land since 1967, after it illegally occupied Gaza and the West Bank. This inhuman practice violates international law, and continues to destroy Palestinian lives.
In addition, CC has built a bottling plant in Gaza, which is under siege. This is a problem, as Palestinians in Gaza face a chronic shortage of freshwater, and access to water is limited to 6-8 hours for 1-4 days a week for Gazans. Inevitably, this raises questions regarding the amount of water that is left for Gazans after CC has extracted large quantities from the area. There is also concern regarding the factory’s electricity supply, as the only power plant in Gaza is only able to supply 30% of the population in irregular intervals. It has been indicated that Coke will be given preferential access to water and electricity, and will also be allowed the passage of necessary materials, while essential building materials for hospitals are barred. It is clearly not about creating jobs for Palestinians- if CC truly cared, they would call for the lifting of the siege on Gaza.
Moreover, it has been revealed that Coca Cola sent thousands of dollars ($13,850) to Im Tirtzu, an extremist, pro-settlement Israeli group. This group has described the Nakba (literally translates as ‘the catastrophe’- where an estimated 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes and hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages depopulated and destroyed) as ‘rubbish – a collection of tall tales and myths’. They have also launched smear campaigns against Jewish critics of Israeli policy, accusing them of being ‘planted’ by anti-Israel groups for propaganda and spying.
In 2012, an investigation found that thousands of African migrant workers were being exploited in Italian orange groves. Coca-Cola is one of the major buyers of concentrated orange juice in Calabria which it uses for its Fanta brand in Italy. Many of these workers were refugees who had made the journey across the Mediterranean. They were found earning as little as £21 for a days picking in the orange groves, and that many lived in slum conditions in makeshift camps without power or sanitation, and fell prey to gangmasters who in some cases charged a fee for organising their picking shifts. Pietro Molinaro, head of Coldiretti Calabria, the regional branch of Italy’s national farming union, claimed that previous attempts to raise the issue of low prices and its link to poor working conditions with Coca-Cola had not received a response.
"This area is facing a big problem: the price big companies pay for this juice is not fair. All in all they force the small processing plants in the area – those that squeeze oranges and produce concentrate – to underpay for raw materials.”
Human Rights Violations
Coca-Cola has a very dark past regarding its human rights violations, and the murder of activists.
Coca-Cola is accused by Colombian courts of financing terrorism for their ties with the now disbanded paramilitary group United Self-Defence Forces of Columbia, hiring hitmen from them between 1990 and 2002 to kill at least 10 trade union leaders who were trying to organise at CC plants. The paramilitary group was responsible for a number of massacres, human rights abuses, kidnappings and extortions that resulted in the displacement of thousands of Colombians.
The human rights violations continue. For example, On June 25, 2015 thugs killed retired Coca Cola worker Wilmer Enrique Giraldo. Wilmer had been injured at work, was forced from his job, received death threats, and fled in fear to Medellin. Luis Enrique Girado Arango, his father, also worked for Coca Cola and also belonged to a trade union. Paramilitaries assassinated Luis Enrique Girado in 1994.
For more info regarding CC and their attempts to silence trade unions and workers’ actively fighting for justice against CC’s exploitative practices around the world, check out http://www.iuf.org/ccww/?q=taxonomy/term/99.
So there you have it. A whole range of crimes committed by just one corporation, destroying lives across the world. It is pretty dire stuff, but we must not and cannot respond with despondence. We must utilise our anger and sadness with ACTION, and I don’t mean going around breaking shit, I mean making sure you CALL COCA COLA OUT. Multinational corporations are dependent on consumer approval, so to let them know that you, as a regular consumer, are disgusted by their actions- this can have a HUGE impact.
Below are the contact deets you can use to message them and ask them what they’re doing to ensure the safety and security of their workers and those affected by their actions.
Hey guys! So its now May (how pls) and this month we will be exposing the one and only…..UNIQLOOOOO!
UNIQLO is a clothing company, which was originally founded
in Yamaguchi, Japan in 1949 as a textiles manufacturer. It is now a global
brand with over 1000 stores around the world.
According to their website, their clothes are ‘simple and
essential yet universal, so people can freely combine them with their own
That’s all good but here’s my fave part; UNIQLO’s reasoning
for why they do what they do:
‘Because if all people can look and feel better every day,
then maybe the world can be a little better too.’ 
LOOOOOLL ALLOW IT. (can we end the exposé here bc thats enough to bait out uniqlo tbh- cringey af)
Despite how cringey this sounds however, it looks like it’s
working, as according to Forbes, UNIQLO has a brand value of $7b, with sales of
$11.4bn recorded in May 2016 . In addition, it turns out UNIQLO’s CEO Tadashi Yanai is the richest man in Japan!.
As with most retailers, UNIQLO’s financial growth has done
little to ensure the wellbeing of those who it depends on to achieve its level
of monetary success. Check out what’s been lowkey going on recently in UNIQLO
supplier factories, and information on how you can get in contact with them and
Last year, War on
Want and a labour organisation in China known as Students and Scholars against
Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) released a report revealing findings from four
of the 70 factories in China that produce for UNIQLO. These factories had been
recognised by UNIQLO as the best-performing factories. Here’s what they found:
EXCESSIVE WORKING HOURS:
Standard working hours per month in these factories is 174
hours, excluding the excessive overtime hours added on top of this. However in
many cases this was largely exceeded. Indeed, in one factory, workers were
working 132 hours of overtime, while in another, workers were working 150 hours
overtime- nearly the same amount as two full time jobs for less than a living
In some cases, workers were required to work from 7:30am to
midnight, seven days a week. Often they weren’t given leave to take a rest,
working these excessive hours for two months straight. When production was at
its peak, workers had to soak their feet in hot water to relieve the pain and
fatigue after standing for hours.
Due to wages being so low, workers are compelled to work
overtime. This is exacerbated by the fact that workers are not properly paid
for overtime e.g. workers were not paid double on weekends when they were
UNSAFE WORKING ENVIRONMENT
There were many health hazards found in UNIQLO factories,
High temperatures: Factory floors are found to be at very
high temperatures, for example, on the knitting floor of one factory it was 38°C.
No protective gear: Men
were seen working topless whilst women were found working in sweat-drenched
clothes. In addition, workers in dyeing departments were expected to work with
heavy loads of fabric that weighed up to 600kg with no protective gear, risking
burns or chemical exposure.
Poor ventilation: Poor ventilation and a high density of
cotton fibre in the air increased the risk of byssinosis (a serious
occupational asthma and respiratory irritation). Moreover, as cotton dust is
combustible this can, and has, led to dust explosions.
Use of toxic chemicals: The use of harmful chemicals in some
factories has led to toxic waste water flooding factory floors, exposing the
workers to these chemicals and also exposing workers to the risk of
Falls from 2-metre high stepladders are found to be common
when working with rolls of yarn- as workers are in a rush to meet targets.
Many factories use harsh protocols to ensure workers are
meeting targets and ensure product quality. For example, in one factory,
workers’ wages were deducted if the quality of their work was not up to
standard or if they were found resting outside their 30-minute lunch and dinner
Fines were also issued. For example, at another factory, a
worker had his entire wage for the day deducted when he was caught attempting
to iron two sleeves at the same time instead of one at a time. Like for
In another factory, workers were encouraged to report mistakes
made by colleagues. Money would be deducted from the salary of the worker who
made the mistake, and transferred to the salary of the worker who had reported
the mistake. Managers regularly used the factory
broadcasting system to name and shame workers who weren’t hitting their
production targets. At one factory, if workers could not reach the target,
other workers would have to take on the extra work.
NO UNIONS ALLOWED
It is extremely hard for workers to voice their concerns, as
there is no collective, democratic body representing workers in negotiations
with management. In one factory, the
chairperson of the union was also the manager at the factory, therefore making
it easier to quash any attempts to advocate workers’ rights. At the same
factory, it was heard that when workers organised a strike against low wages in
2009, management hired gangsters to physically assault the workers’ leaders and
suppress the strike. In another case, workers who had led a strike against high
temperatures on the shop floor were dismissed.
In addition, in June 2015, a supplier of UNIQLO called Artigas Clothing shut down without notice and refused compensation for more than 500 workers. After hearing about the possibility of a closure in December 2014, 1000 workers went on strike and demanded that the company pay their pension and overtime payments. The police and factory management shut down the strike and forced workers to return to work, ignoring their demands. Then when June 2015 arrived, workers slept in the factory for weeks to prevent the factory closing without giving the workers their compensation and pension payments, and wished to collectively speak to management. The factory owners rejected, so workers petitioned to the provincial government to resolve the dispute, which led to violent police repression and the detention of 150 workers. One of the female leaders was given indefinite detention in an attempt to force workers to sign a ‘voluntary’ resignation if they wanted her release. 359 workers were pressured into signing through individual visits by management as well. Workers were forcibly removed to work in another factory, and workers wh were part of the collective action were dismissed. UNIQLO did nothing to support the workers.
BRIBERY TO GET AWAY WITH ABUSES
During factory audits, when inspectors come to check out the
workers’ conditions to report back to retailers, workers are often bribed (e.g.
using a cash reward) and compelled to give responses the factory wants them to
give. Considering that workers may be giving false information about their
working conditions, it is worrying to think how much worse conditions may
This report caused a stir, and thanks to the ongoing
campaigning of War on Want and SACOM, this January UNIQLO agreed to make its
supply chain public, making it easier to locate where UNIQLO’s clothes are made
and therefore making it easier to track conditions, organise and build a
stronger movement of workers in the area. Then in March, the pressure from
campaigners further led to UNIQLO publishing their list of 146 core factory
suppliers across seven countries in Asia!
In 2015, a factory making clothes for UNIQLO in
Indonesia closed down, leaving around 4000 workers without a job, with four
months of wages unpaid and compensation amounting to nearly $11m! Workers have
been forced into homelessness and unemployment with no support whatsoever from
UNIQLO. Two years later and workers are still waiting for their wages and
compensation. It’s absolutely ridiculous
In 2015, Human Rights Now (HRN) visited Cambodia and
found a supplier to UNIQLO, where a male worker revealed the horrific conditions
workers were enduring. He was asked to work overtime almost everyday, including
working 24 consecutive hours. However, he was never paid for overtime hours
after 6 pm. In fact, after 24 hours of overtime shifts, workers were only given
$5. If workers didn’t work overtime, their contracts would not be renewed. Workers
from this and one other factory claimed that they were union members, which was
why management refused to renew their contracts. Many workers were said to pass
out due to high temperatures and a lack of air conditioning. In addition, workers
would not receive safety equipment such as goggles or a mask to cover their mouths
and noses from the detergent odours in the laundry department. However, they wouldn’t
have been able to use the masks anyway, because of the high temperature of the
room, making it difficult to breathe with them on. Workers would be forced to
wear masks and goggles only when inspectors came.
In addition, the coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’
Democratic Union (CCAWDU) found that in 2014, 6,715 people were dismissed due
to their active participation in labour unions. In late 2015, 50 workers were
dismissed due to their union membership. In December the factory were ordered
by the Arbitration Council to reinstate the 50 workers, but they refused. A
strike began in February 2016, but instead of reinstating the workers, another
55 were terminated, and union members were refused contract renewals.
Now we know the situation It is our duty to stand in
solidarity with the workers who are tirelessly risking their lives to stand up
to UNIQLO, to work in dignity, and to ensure justice for themselves and their
colleagues. They are out there risking their lives as union members,
protesting, allowing reporters to tell their stories. It is the very least we
Today I went to visit Oitij-jo Collective’s first exhibition;
an exploration of Bangladeshi Nakshi stitching and Khadi material with
designer Rukia Ullah and the ethical and sustainable fashion designer
Shama Kun. Seeing Bengalis out here not just embracing our culture, but doing so through ethical and sustainable means is the BEST THING EVAR and is honestly so inspiring to someone who wishes to do the same (somehow).
Nakshi comes from the Bengali word “naksha”, which refers to
artistic patterns. The stitching was used traditionally to make
‘Kanthas’ or quilts by using old sarees and other materials. Rukia
explores the spirit of this very traditional process what now would be
called ‘recycling or upcycling’.
Rukia’s specialism is
print and pattern design along with fashion design – her explorations
through design now include understanding her cultural roots of
Bangladesh – her collections are thus inspired from Bangladesh and its
diverse heritage, and she aspires to engage further with this by drawing
her inspiration from Bengal’s rich cultural heritage. In this
collection she uses both recycled patterned fabric and Nakshi to
counteract stereotypes of Bangladesh with the beautiful aspects of the
land, in particular the beauty of Barsa, the rainy season.
Shama Kun explores the often neglected Khadi also known as
‘Khaddar’ which has a long history in Bangladesh dating back to 16th
Century. The material is mainly woven from cotton and blended with silk
or other materials by hand on the ‘Chakra’, and carries a message of
self-reliance and sustainability. Not to mention that it’s completely
A ‘people before profit’ label, Shama
Kun focuses on keeping indigenous Bangladeshi textile knowledge alive
while providing culturally inspired, cutting edge yet modern wear for
the modern woman. Shama Kun ethically produces all her range in rural
weaving belts and craft cluster of Bangladesh.
Thank you to Oitij-jo for such an inspiring exhibition. As a woman who is passionate about ethics and celebrating my grandparents’ culture, it is so beautiful to see the two entwined by two very talented women, especially seeing how women in Bangladesh have actually been recycling for TIME #ethicalgoals – looking forward to similar events!
I receive numerous questions daily about veganism and although I’ve answered stacks of them and have resources on my blog, I thought it’d be best to compile useful resources here for easy reference. Feel free to use this to stay informed, reblog and add your own resources and share with uninformed hoes.
Food Thursday’s – We’re bringing you our favourite ethical recipes,
food bloggers and other food related things…
This Thursday we’re featuring Loving It Vegan. It’s creators
Alison and Jaye are a couple who have been vegan since 2005 and are both
Look how cute they are!
Their website features so many amazing vegan recipes. We
love how they show how easy and delicious it is to be vegan as well as their
really cute website.
We get asked loads of questions as veggie/vegan’s and the
most common opinion is ‘how are you going to live without chicken.’ It gets
kind boring explaining it so now we can refer people to Loving it Vegan so they can see
their awesome recipes which are so easy to follow.
Hopefully together we can
change the narrative that the only way to survive is on the over production on
chickens and cows. We need to make people respect the simplicity of ‘life’ and
a ‘living being’ because that respect has been lost. Appreciating what we have
has disappeared and instead we’ve exploited what we have.
Some of their recipes include; Pancakes, cakes, noodles,
fudge and tofu.
Try out this cool vegan mouse which uses chickpea juice as
an egg replacement!
So I have spent a few months trialling out different moisturisers to see what works best for me. I used to use vaseline because I get really dry skin and I’m sensitive to different products. I decided to move away from vaseline because Unilever are known to test on animals and to leave areas polluted.
My first option was organic raw coconut oil.
This smells yummy and everyone is obsessed with it at the moment. It was fine for my body but not for my face. It would leave me feeling dry very soon afterwards.
I decided to look for a vaseline alternative and found Waxelene.
It has no petroleum products, non-gmo, no animal testing and is biodegradable and recyclable. It is made from organic coy oil, beeswax, natural vitamin e oil and organic rosemary oil. I tried it for quite a long time and found that although it kept me moisturised, it started to give me spots. I think it was too greasy. That’s the annoying thing about my face. It’s like Goldilocks. It needs something JUST right.
While I was trying Waxelene I went to lush and took a couple testers home. I took Celestial and Skin Drink. Celestial wasn’t good for me at all. It left me feeling dry and I don’t think it was very good to my skin. SkinDrink on the other hand was amazing. I love SkinDrink.
It feels so good on my skin and still light. I hate putting lots of random things on my face, and often creams can feel heavy and dirty. But it doesn’t feel that way with Skin Drink. It definitely does what it says on the tin…or pot.
So here is a short list of nice places to shop. Places to find clothes that are ethical, second hand, vintage, handmade and by independent designers. We will add to the list as we discover more but if you need inspiration look no further!
The list will start with Angel! These are a few things I picked up.
Found them at:
Oxfam- 29 Islington high st
The Fara Workshop- 28-32 Pentonville Rd, London N1 9HJ
Brick Lane obviously has awesome vintage shops. These are my favourite:
Blitz- 55-59 Hanbury St, London E1 5JP
Rokit-101 Brick Ln, London E1 6SE
Beyond Retro- 110-112 Cheshire St, London E2 6EJ
The Laden Showroom- The Rib Man, 103 Brick Ln, Greater London E1 6SE
Wood Green has a cluster of charity shop gold. This list goes from Turnpike lane to Wood Green station.
North London Hospice
British Heart Foundation
Dalston also has a a few charity shops I enjoyed visiting when I worked in the area:
Traid- 106-108 Kingsland High St, London E8 2NS
This dress was from Traid. Love it SO much.
Oxfam- 514 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AR
St Vincents- 484-486 Kingsland Rd London E8 4AE
Camden is great for having both vintage and charity in the same place. If you walk from Mornington Crescent towards Camden Market:
British Heart Foundation
Rokit- 226 Camden High St
Only one for Notting Hill at the moment but I hear there are lot’s of places I need to visit!
Mary’s Living and Giving Shop- 177 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2SB
This one has a special place in my heart as I volunteered there for a summer and I loved it there.