Ross educates others on ethical consumption

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Georgia Ross

Eighth-grader Georgia Ross created a list of a few popular brands that use sweatshops in hopes of inspiring others to consume ethically and research before they purchase clothing.

After primarily exploring the Holocaust and racism (among other social justice issues) in her Hebrew school class at Mount Zion Temple, eighth-grader Georgia Ross chose to focus on sweatshops for her final project.

Holocaust survivor Fred Amram taught this trimester-long elective class where students in grades eight and nine had the opportunity to read his memoir, “We’re In America Now: A Survivor’s Stories” and engage in discussions about it. They were also given the chance to explore issues they were passionate about and brainstorm ideas for how to make real change.

The final project was a chance for the students to choose any current social justice issue and take action against it. One of Ross’ classmates created a website with anti-racism resources and information. Several others created slideshows about issues like the Uyghur Muslim concentration camps.

A unit in seventh grade relating to sweatshops and unlawful labor piqued Ross’ interest in exploring these topics for her final project. Sweatshops are crowded factories, especially in the clothing industry, with extremely poor and unethical working conditions that put the safety of workers at risk. Large and wealthy companies like Adidas are among the many businesses that exploit workers in these factories to increase profit and production. The workers stay for long workdays that often result in 100+ hour work weeks and in return, they get paid very little. Many of these factories also have dangerous working environments that do not meet regulations for things like air conditioning systems and general cleanliness.

I think a lot of people get kind of intimidated by this subject because it seems like a lot, especially since most of the stores that we shop at have clothes that are manufactured in sweatshops.”

— Georgia Ross

Ross wanted to make sure she wasn’t contributing to the problem, so she did some research. “I wanted to inform myself about [the stores] I should and shouldn’t support,” she said.

Ross’ project, a list of stores that people should and shouldn’t shop at, can be printed out into posters to hang up or small cards for shoppers to carry around. Ross said, “I think a lot of people get kind of intimidated by this subject because it seems like a lot, especially since most of the stores that we shop at have clothes that are manufactured in sweatshops.” She hopes that her work can provide an easy way for people to remember to shop sustainably without getting overwhelmed or being misinformed about which stores are ethical to choose.

“I know it’s really hard to support some of these [sustainable] brands because kids our age want to keep up with the trends and want to buy things cheap,” Ross said. “But, by also supporting these more expensive brands, you’re probably going to buy less, which also helps not create so much waste.”

Take a look at the list, and join Ross in becoming more mindful of where to shop.