This weekend will mark the 4th anniversary of my first ever trip to Newport! Back in 2016, months before the launch of harperandtucker.com, I arrived to the Ocean State for the very first time not knowing that soon enough it would become my new home. It was that visit that kindled my lifetime love of Newport and this state.
The spirit of July 4th here is truly palpable and is a celebration like no other place I have been. From locals soaking up their hometown coming alive, to visitors seeking out an escape from their normal routines - everybody comes together to create a magical weekend for all. When I envision July 4th I think of basking in the sun on Third Beach, sipping cocktails on the lawn at Castle Hill, eating my weight in Joyce's mouth watering crab dip, and making my way from Cooke House's open air Candy Store down to the basement to dance the night away at the infamous Boom Boom Room. Newport transforms into a choose your own adventure playground that you never want to leave.
We all know that unfortunately, this year looks a little different. As this pandemic continues to rear its ugly head throughout our country, we must take pause to reflect on how we can make this July 4th about our fellow citizens, neighbors, family and friends. I truly believe that over the past few months, we have witnessed some of the best of the American spirit. From the rallying support of small businesses and essential workers, to the unifying front and amplification of voices against racial injustice, to the Supreme Court decision to protect our LGBTQ community in the workplace, America is progressing and that is something worth celebrating this weekend.
As you may be aware, a major platform of our sustainability mission is to partner with makers that manufacture their goods in the United States. While we are not exclusively an American-made boutique, we actively seek out domestic brands that are committed to partnering with local factories and manufacturers. We felt that this week was as good as any to touch on why we do this and pull the curtain back on the fashion industry.
Many countries that produce apparel often have no laws to protect the rights of their workers. There are often minimal or no regulations on wage, work day hours, working conditions, and even child labor. For instance, in China some workers make as little as 12-18 cents per hourin poor working conditions. In contrast, all manufacturers and factories in the U.S. are legally bound to abide by the Department of Labor Fair Labor Standard's Act, which requires American employees to receive federal minimum wage, and protects minors with regulations that restrict the hours that they can work and the jobs they can hold. By supporting brands that make their goods in the USA, we are investing in regulated labor conditions designed to protect factory workers and uphold safe and fair working standards.
To be clear, this does not mean that every factory in a country without regulation does not implement fair trade and safe working conditions, nor does it mean that every domestic factory does. However, shopping American-made brands is one way you can be confident that you are supporting businesses that are liable and can be held accountable for their treatment of their workers.
With the rise of American consumerism and the 'fast fashion' movement, the environmental impact of the fashion industry is currently unparalleled. America's importing of overseas goods is only exacerbating this global issue. If the United States was held accountable for the pollution that resulted from all goods that Americans use, the nation's carbon dioxide emissions would be 14 percent biggerthan its domestic-only numbers suggest. This concept of "embodied carbon" accounts for the lifetime carbon footprint of a good, accounting for its supply chain and the footprint a garment takes to ultimately wind up in your closet.
In 2015, greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production globally totaled 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent, according to a report by the industry-led Circular Fibres Initiative. This is more than the emissions of all international flights and maritime shipping combined. - The Guardian, 2018
In addition, many countries where the bulk of apparel is produced have few or no environmental regulations to protect water and land, resulting in many of these factories using hazardous chemicals that pollute the air, water and soil. American manufacturing processes are regulated to be cleaner and ultimately less harmful to the planet.