Category Archives: Learn


Report: Global Pollution Kills One in Six People

October 10, 2017

Author: Christopher Cox

Category: Learn

Air_Pollution_in_DhakaAn extraordinary new medical study reveals that pollution kills nine million people every year. Put another way, that is at least one of every six deaths on the planet, and the tally could be higher as the consequences of pollution remain poorly understood.

The report from The Lancet Commission on pollution and health makes a stark claim:

Pollution disproportionately kills the poor and the vulnerable. Nearly 92% of pollution-related deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries and, in countries at every income level, disease caused by pollution is most prevalent among minorities and the marginalised. Children are at high risk of pollution-related disease and even extremely low-dose exposures to pollutants during windows of vulnerability in utero and in early infancy can result in disease, disability, and death in childhood and across their lifespan.

The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, is one of the world’s oldest and best known general medical journals.

One graphic from the study illustrates the global impact of pollution deaths by country:

Figure 8 Number of deaths per 100 000 people that are attributable to all forms of pollution, 2015 GBD Study, 2016.42

Figure 8
Number of deaths per 100 000 people that are attributable to all forms of pollution, 2015
GBD Study, 2016.42

While the study does not make this claim, it does not surprise us, given the garment industry’s vast contribution to the world’s pollution, that countries that make a lot of clothes also have a lot of people die from pollution with India and Bangladesh among the highest per capita deaths attributable to pollution. Again, while the study does not make a formal empirical correlation, it may not be too strong to say that “our clothing kills.” Pollution from chemicals in cotton fields, from the petroleum-based synthetic fibers, from the dyes, and from the disposal of our clothing in landfills, creates a deadly toxic mess.

The Guardian provided an excellent summary of the study here.

A one-page info-graphic, provided by The Lancet, about the studies finding can be found here.

Book recommendation: Sewing Hope

October 10, 2017

Author: Christopher Cox

Category: Learn

Sewing Hope

Sewing Hope

This new book from UC Press chronicles the Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republic, which boasts a living wage, high health and safety standards, and a legitimate union – all verified by an independent monitor. The Human Thread received an advance copy to review. Sewing Hope is both full of data with academic rigor arguing for a living wage as well as rich stories of the impact in human lives of such a wage. We highly recommend the book.

The books authors are Sarah Adler-Milstein and Professor John M. Kline, a keen ally in the work of The Human Thread. Adler-Milstein is a worker-rights advocate and has served as Field Director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Worker Rights Consortium. Professor Kline is Professor of International Business Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He is the author of four books, including the textbook Ethics for International Business.

Orders for the book may be placed here, or from your favorite local book seller.

Details announced for Papal Visit to Bangladesh

October 10, 2017

Author: Christopher Cox

Category: Learn

Francis
Yesterday, the Vatican Press Office released the program for the Apostolic Visit of His Holiness Francis to Myanmar and Bangladesh (November 26 to December 2, 2017). The full calendar can be found here.

Here at The Human Thread, we have our eyes focused on this visit. Catholic News Service has a summary of the highlights of the program here. While nothing on the official calendar commits Pope Francis to speaking directly about the conditions of garment workers, he will be visiting the National Martyrs’ Memorial in Savar, the same community northwest of Dhaka where the Rana Plaza building once stood.

For obvious reasons, the ongoing Rohingya crisis will dominate the headlines, but Pope Francis’ visit to two extremely poor countries will likely elevate solidarity, care for creation, and human rights in unexpected ways.
CNS-POPE-MYANMAR-BANGLADESH

Agreement for a new Bangladesh Accord in 2018

June 06, 2017

Author: Christopher Cox

Category: Learn

Accord-logo-big

The Human Thread is delighted that the first 13 global companies (with many more pending and expected) and two global unions have agreed on a 2nd Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. The new agreement will enter into effect when the current Accord expires in May 2018. The Accord is an unprecedented, legally binding agreement between companies and trade unions to make factories in Bangladesh safe. While much remains to be done, the original Accord has been an important vehicle for improving workplace safety.

The original Accord was signed in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster and would last five years.

In addition to the brands and the two unions, the agreement also has four non-governmental labor rights organizations as “witness signatories.” Sarah Newell, Campaigns Associate at the International Labor Rights Forum, one of the witness signatory organizations, said:

The renewal of the Accord is based on clear evidence that this model, where companies take active responsibility for the safety and rights of workers in their supply chains, works. As we saw with the first Accord, it will take consumer pressure for brands and retailers to commit to making these changes. If as much progress is to be made in the next four years as in the past four, it’ll take conscientious consumers supporting workers by urging brands who source clothing from Bangladesh to sign onto the new Accord and follow through on their commitments.

Here at The Human Thread, we agree Ms. Newell, and we want to underscore the importance of “conscientious consumers” in advancing worker safety, rights, and wages.

For more information, Reuters covered the new Accord here. A press release from the Accord is here.  The full text of the agreement is available here. ILRF’s statement on the renewal is found here. The four witness signatories’ statement is found here. The statement from ICCR is available here.