$21,161,000,000 revenue and $0.11/hour. What do these two figures have in common? The first is H&M’s 2010 revenue; the second is the minimum wage paid in their Bangladesh factory. This visually impressive interactive map is the product of a collaborative project motivated by the recent garment factory disasters in Bangladesh. It will help your students think more critically about where their clothes come from, and question their future purchases. Now that they know more about the garment industry, ask them: Do you feel differently toward the stuff you have or want? Will your attitude toward labels and brand names change? What else do you need to know to be a smart consumer?
EXPLORE: Garment Industry Infographic
After you and your students have explored the interactive map, consider using this New York Times' Learning Network lesson, "Corporate Irresponsibility? Fashion’s Hidden Cost in Bangladesh’s Garment Industry." One may assume that American companies should assume responsibility for the health and safety of overseas workers that make the clothes they sell. But what level of responsibility do consumers have?
This lesson, appropriate for grades 6 through university, digs deep into the issue of corporate responsibility as students take on the role of clothing executives researching and negotiating policy changes responding to the Bangladesh factory fires. Then, students will change hats to become an advocate for workers' rights and write a persuasive letter to their favorite clothing brand, appealing for safe working conditions for factory workers and adoption of labor standards.