Vending Machine Sells T-Shirts for $2, but Nobody Wants to Buy Them: Here’s Why

By Margery Dunn, Epoch Times
July 13, 2019 Updated: August 4, 2019

Most people are looking at being fashionable on a low budget today and are trying to find the perfect steal of a deal. Unsurprisingly, this has actually become quite easy—just a click away. Online retailing can help one compare products and prices before buying. And this has become a popular way to update your wardrobe with new styles at bargain prices.

While filling up your closet with bargain-priced clothes might make you feel great, the conditions in which today’s fashion items are made might not always be good. Buying ethical fashion is deeply personal as can be seen in the following social experiment.

A bright turquoise vending machine was placed in a well-known public square in Berlin to find out what people would do when offered a T-shirt at a bargain price. Customers then tapped in their size and were shown a glimpse of the working conditions under which their cheap T-shirts were made. After seeing the thought-provoking video, did people still go ahead to buy the 2-euro (US$2.2) T-shirt?

Indeed, customers who are concerned about ethical production can influence today’s fashion brands to act more responsibly. Wherever the goods are made, the supply chain should be transparent to the consumers, and companies should be accountable for the goods they produce.

Forced Labor

Nobody wants to think of slave or forced labor as being a part of their business or the products they buy, but too often than not the truth is hidden. Unfortunately, in China, the Chinese communist regime doesn’t see this brutal and exploitative system as a human rights abuse but instead looks at it as a way to reform prisoners through forced labor and re-education in the prison system.

Prisoners of Conscience

In some cases, Chinese manufacturers have openly advertised the use of prisoners for labor. As per the WOIPFG report, among the many detainees are adherents of Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa), a traditional Chinese spiritual practice based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. The practice was banned by the Chinese communist regime in 1999 shortly after a state-run survey estimated that there were at least 70 million people practicing these exercises in China.

Falun Gong practitioners exercise in Chengdu, China’s Sichuan Province before the persecution began in 1999. (©The Epoch Times)

Since 1999, “millions of people who practice Falun Gong have been subject to wrongful imprisonment, “brainwashing” sessions, and torture, with thousands of deaths, confirmed in custody,” according to the Falun Information Center.

Many are sentenced to forced labor camps or prisons where detainees are forced to make products that are exported. From 2000 to 2002, more than 50 Falun Gong practitioners were forced to make sweaters for Tianshan Wool Tex and were held at Changji Labor Camp. They worked more than 20 hours a day. Their legs became swollen as they had to stand to operate the machines.

Detainees were also forced to work in extreme conditions resulting in prolonged exhaustion and sleep deprivation. Those who were tortured would unintentionally rub off pus and blood onto the sweaters.

SOS Notes

However, some prisoners have found ways to alert the world about the atrocities being committed in the labor camps and prisons. Several Americans in the recent past have reported finding SOS messages in their “Made in China” products; the translated messages describe the long hours and cruel conditions prisoners endured while making products for sale worldwide.

I found this in box of Halloween decorations that I just opened. Someone in a Chinese labor camp asking for help. I am…

تم النشر بواسطة ‏‎Julie Keith‎‏ في الأحد، ٢١ أكتوبر ٢٠١٢

Christel Wallace, an American shopper, found a piece of paper folded up at the bottom of her new handbag bought at an Arizona Walmart in March 2017.

The message, scrawled in Chinese, when translated read: “Inmates at the Yingshan Prison in Guangxi, China work 14 hours a day and are not allowed to rest at noon. We have to work overtime until midnight. People are beaten for not finishing their work. There’s no salt and oil in our meals. … Sick inmates who need medicine get their pay deducted.”

In another SOS message that went viral, an Oregon woman finds a desperate note in her Halloween decoration box bought from Kmart; it was written by a prisoner from inside one of China’s notorious labor camps.

©Letter from Masanjia

As the world becomes more aware, fashion consumers intent on living sustainable lifestyles by growing more source savvy and selective in their purchases demand not only quality products but ethical production practices. And if we need help in choosing ethically, there is an app for that, the Good On You app, designed for the conscious consumer.

Watch the video:

Letter from Masanjia (2018) Documentary | Official Trailer

Watch the official trailer. Letter from Masanjia reveals how an SOS note from China made its way to Oregon and changed history. The filmmakers risked everything to capture secret footage and show the world how China treats activists. Please share the trailer and like our page, your voice can help the voiceless.

تم النشر بواسطة ‏‎Letter from Masanjia‎‏ في الثلاثاء، ٢٠ مارس ٢٠١٨

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