That’s the message from A Rocha UK’s Churches and Theology Director Dr Ruth Valerio (pictured), after a Primark customer found what appeared to be a hand-stitched cry for help on one of the shop’s garments.
‘Don’t look and say, “I can’t do this 100 per cent so I can’t do anything – I’m paralysed”,’ said Ruth in an interview for online news service Christian Today. ‘Just do one thing – it’s better than not doing anything at all.’
Cardiff shopper Rebecca Gallagher hit the headlines when she found a label – with the shocking statement ‘Forced to work exhausting hours’ – sewn alongside washing instructions in her £10 Primark top.
A Primark spokesperson has been quoted as saying it’s an isolated incident. They said the matter would be investigated to ensure ‘whether there are issues which need to be looked into’.
In her response, Ruth Valerio warned against ‘fast fashion’ and highlighted the conditions of people who make the things we wear. ‘We know it’s terrible, but we forget about it so easily because it’s so distanced from us,’ she said.
‘We’re not buying directly from someone who we can see is in awful conditions, but instead we’re buying it in a nice, brightly lit shop – and so it’s hard to remember that there’s a connection.’
In the article headlined The pull of Primark: are we ignoring the dark side of fast fashion?, Ruth said Christians have a responsibility to buy fairly and support movements for better working conditions. The Bible is ‘shot through’ with directives on caring for the poor and disadvantaged, she added.
‘The themes of love, justice and compassion run like a golden thread all through the biblical narrative. We can’t ignore that. For me, it’s an absolutely essential part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.’
She suggests buying fewer clothes, and investing in fairly-traded, ethical items. ‘The right question to ask is: “Why are our clothes so cheap?'” she said. ‘When you start looking behind the label, you realise why that is.’
Christian Today is an independent, interdenominational Christian media company serving the worldwide Church. Ruth’s interview can be read at: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/the.pull.of.primark.are.we.ignoring.the.dark.side.of.fast.fashion/38373.htm.