She told me to dig around a little more, and I discovered that--like with many other products and services--all brands were not created equal. Some expensive brands don’t do a great job of looking out for the workers manufacturing their products, while some other less expensive clothing brands are making an effort. This came a relief to me, as I believe (and suspect that many of our students will too) that cheap clothes can "level the playing field" and increase the self-confidence of teens who can’t afford higher-priced trends and fashion.
Eventually, my friend sent me the link to a study out of Australia, which gave global fashion brands a letter grade for their approach to worker welfare. Sure enough, H&M had received a B+, and Forever 21, a D-. She also pointed out that some of the more expensive designer brands also ranked pretty low.
She could have told me all of this right away, but like a good teacher, my friend knew that I needed to find the information out for myself. And just like that, she helped me create the perfect activity to go along with our debate.
Conscious consumerism isn’t something that can be directly pushed on someone. Just like with the other skills we teach, it’s something our students need to practice and develop on their own.
After reading the debate and picking a side, have your students use the activity sheet below to have to conduct their own research and share their findings with the class.