Research: Week 5

Only a few weeks left already… time has flown! Even though there isn’t ,much time left and my last findings regarding fair trade were great, I was unable to find more data to analyze. After meeting with my PI, we decided it would be best for me to read through other possible topics and choose something else in the realm of trade, globalization, and human rights. At the end of our meeting, he gave me a book to read through for topic ideas, where I learned about the horrifying conditions of sweatshops and how globalization impacts both sweatshops and child labor in Asia. For the remaining of my summer experience, I think I will be reading papers on this topic and trying to find data which aligns with it.

After reading about it in this book, I decided to look up ways that our every day consumer habits impact these individuals, and learned quite a bit about fast fashion. While I have never considered myself to be very trendy, I have occasionally bought from brands which are part of this industry (I shouldn’t name names) and regret doing so. Not only does the consumption of these products negatively impact the lives of these individuals, many of which are women and in some cases children, but it also heavily increases the amount of waste produced by the consumer and thus has a negative environmental impact. Luckily, I learned about these issues sooner rather than later and can change my habits early in my adult life, and will be beginning to shop at ethically produced, well-sourced, environmentally-friendly shops. Although they tend to be more expensive, studies show that by first world consumers bearing a higher cost, it can drastically improve the lives of these individuals by improving their work environment, their pay, hours, benefits, and overall well-being. I will happily pay $20 more for a pair of shoes that I know is better quality, ethically sourced, will have a positive impact on a workers life, reduce my carbon footprint, and will also last for a longer period of time.

When not doing research, I’ve been on the job hunt. I have been learning a lot about what type of work environment I would like to have when I graduate and what other criteria I wish to fulfill in this job. Since I am confident this is where I’ll be moving After I earn my degree in December, I have begun applying to positions. I saw a posting for an economic researcher that seems closely aligned with my interests and am planning on discussing it with my PI. He has been a great mentor throughout my experience and I am hoping he would be willing to write me a letter of recommendation.

2 thoughts on “Research: Week 5

  • August 9, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    I continue to be impressed by your ability to adapt this summer! Your PI sounds very supportive in giving guidance, as you identify topics to pursue, and determine if there is data accessible for further analysis. Thanks for sharing your shift toward looking at labor conditions and consumer habits – it sounds like you’re energized by this new perspective!

    The work you’re doing around this is clearly impacting your personal shopping decisions as well. Would you hope to influence change/understanding in others to more broadly educate folks consumer on ethically-produced products? And beyond reading the book your PI suggested, how can a consumer learn about what companies/brands are environmentally and worker-friendly?

    I’m glad you’ve made time to consider your next steps as well, identifying work environment, jobs that connect with your interests, etc. Please don’t hesitate to stop by the Hub for drop-in hours or an appointment, as you continue work on your application materials and/or interview preparations!


    • August 13, 2018 at 12:41 pm

      Hi Beth,

      Yes, absolutely it has changed my habits and has made me more mindful. There has been evidence to support consumer activism having a heavy impact on multinational regulation, and as more people learn about the industry and about alternative places to shop, I think regulation can happen as a result. I would love to discuss it with more people, it’s such an important topic to me. There’s a number of brands which support fairtrade, ethical conditions, sometimes even organic fabrics. I think my favorite that I’ve found so far is called Everlane, which has a variety of both women and men’s clothing and isn’t a much higher price than other popular brands. There’s a number of great blogs which discuss ethical fashion and mindful consuming, but a great one that gives a list of brands is by a person named Kristen Leo.

      Thanks for the suggestion! I always enjoy stopping by, you guys are all so helpful.



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