Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Teen truly cares what she wears

Favorite fashions are fairly made.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Like any American teen, Hannah Golden pays close attention to what she wears.

It's not so much the labels that matter; rather, the Harbor High School sophomore is more interested in where the clothes were made and how the workers were treated.

Golden, 15, started caring about the backstory of her wardrobe after watching a documentary in her advanced European history class soon after January's devastating earthquake in Haiti.

The film "Mickey Mouse Goes to Haiti," created by the National Labor Committee to highlight exploitation of low-paid factory workers, showed "Lion King" T-shirts and other Hanes apparel being manufactured by Haitians under conditions she described as "intense stuff."

What Golden saw in the documentary motivated her to start a Fair Trade Club at Harbor High and begin a movement to convert to fair trade all of the apparel - T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts and socks - sold in the Santa Cruz City Schools District.

"If I'm spending $11 on a jacket, I don't want only 40 cents going to the person who made it," Golden said.

Golden has already won over Harbor High principal Dick Davis and athletic director Steve Kopald with her idea, and she presented a proposal to the school board last week to adopt a policy that would ensure that only fair trade clothing is sold at schools.

Davis agreed that, starting in the fall, the school's physical education uniforms would come from a fair trade manufacturer. The cost is the same and the school will continue to buy from the same vendor, Davis said.

"This is really a statement students are making about the need to be aware of our impact on the rest of the world when we buy things," Davis said. "If the price were double, it would be a tougher decision."

If each student or staff member spends $50 a year on apparel to show off school spirit, the economic impact would be nearly $500,000, Golden and her European history teacher Jeremy Shonick said.

Shonick pointed to his $29 black University of Washington ball cap and said only 5 cents is left in Bangladesh, where it was made, which he said is "criminal."

"This is the greatest power we have, what we buy," said Shonick, a teacher of 28 years with the district. "This is a little thing we can do. It's not that hard to do."