October 20, 2015

Plain Black T-Shirt A Lesson In Globalism

Made in Canada

At one time this country used to make things that people used and needed. I remember not so long ago that when looking at the tags on clothing one would often see "Made in Canada" on the label. Sure there was clothing from other countries, but the majority would be made here.

Now when I look at clothes in the second hand shops I see tags from everywhere except my own country. Most of the countries where clothes are now made are places where wages are ultra-low, and social/environmental protections are lax.

The other day I was looking at a plain black t-shirt that has been in my wardrobe for at least the past 5 election cycles. Maybe longer. It is thin, stretched, and perfectly comfortable. Somehow over the years it has escaped my tag detective scrutiny.

When I looked at the tag on my shirt I discovered that it was manufactured about 3 hours away from where I am currently living - right here in Nova Scotia, Canada. It was made by a company that started making clothes in 1855 (I think that is when my shirt was made from the look of it), and they are still making them there today.

Rather than being an exploitative sweatshop, the company has been providing quality jobs and tax dollars to the local community for over one hundred years. Generations of locals have worked in the textile mill, raised families, lived good lives, and provided products that Canadians need.

Even now the company is committed to making as much clothing as they can right here at home. Even if that means the product is a little more expensive than if it were made, say, in Bangladesh. Or Nicaragua. Or Pakistan. Or China. Or Haiti.

We used to have "Buy Local" programs that encouraged us to keep our money and business profits in the country. Globalism has done away with anything that might affect multi-national profit making, including all the programs encouraging us to keep our dollars at home.

That does't mean we have to stop looking at where our clothes are made, and the consequences of buying from bad bosses overseas.

If you don't look at labels on your clothing, I highly recommend you try. It is a good lesson in globalism and geography. Afterwards, consider sourcing your clothing needs closer to home.

When I need another plain black t-shirt (probably before the next election), I know where I am going to buy it. And if I have to spend a little more for the privilege of buying Canadian made, that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

Think Globally. Buy Locally.


  1. After reading this I took off the green hoodie I was wearing (which is easily 20 years old) and the tag said "Made in USA" - I live in Oregon. The tag said it was made for the Lee company - who make jeans and other pants. And I also had a pair of Lee pants on right then, that I bought about 4 years ago - and it was made in Mexico. Checking my closet, I see clothes that are new to those 8+ years old that come from China, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic...but none from USA or Canada. I know some clothes are still made in North America, as you pointed out. But it is getting harder and harder to find them. -- Mary

    1. I am so glad I inspired you to check out your closet. It is both fascinating and troubling to realize the extent to which much of North America's manufacturing capacity was sent overseas. With globalization, CEOs moved everything to where cheap labour and lax environmental laws allow for greater corporate profits.

      It is a condition that causes much suffering, and so many of us support it with our purchases. It is essential to know where our stuff comes from, and if it was made ethically. At the very least, we can make our clothes last a long time rather than treat them as disposable.

      At least you found one item of clothing made in North America. It sounds like you are getting good use out of your USA made hoodie.

  2. Last evening I had dinner with a friend. We had a discussion about "fast fashion" a term she had never heard. I urged her, to find clothing that is made ethically and not buy more than we need. I recommended a documentary that I was able to watch on Netflix called "True Cost" It gives you a glimpse into the true cost of what the fashion industry is doing to people and our planet.

    1. I don't think I have ever heard the term "fast fashion" before. It makes perfect sense. Good job on educating your friend. Regardless of the problem, education is usually the answer. I will be looking for "True Cost". Thank you, Miss Marla.


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