This project is closed... but don't let that stop you! Simply execute your idea!

I executed this idea, you can view the end result here!

Trace your favorite shirt back to the factory in which it was made. Travel there, thank someone on the assembly line, spend some time with him/her then tell us about his/her life (including working conditions).

106 people said 'Do this!'

Comments / Votes

Maarten
Maarten
February 19 2012  | LoveUnlove

Nice idea! Can it also be something else that I consumed or is in my property? Like a pair of pants, electronics or furniture?

Ingetje Wielenga
Ingetje Wielenga
February 19 2012  | Maarten loves thisLoveUnlove

I think you should do a few of your favorite items, in different categories.

Adam Beeson
Adam Beeson
February 19 2012  | LoveUnlove

Hey Maarten - yes, it should be your favorite possession(s) - clothing, electronics, furniture, etc. If several of your things happen to be produced in the same country, you could visit a number of factories and people (or if you have the budget to travel to many countries even better, but the idea is that you actually take the time to get to know the people who make y(our) things - maybe traveling too much could leave less time to be with them; by keeping it to a few items/people you could really tell us their stories).

Maarten
Maarten
February 19 2012  | An LP and Adam Beeson love thisLoveUnlove

Yes, it shouldn't be to many things, otherwise I would end up traveling the entire month. Probably finding the right factory, getting inside and finding an employe willing to share his story might already take quite some time. So maybe I should just start with one item, see how it develops and then when there is more time in the month go to the next item.

Adam Beeson
Adam Beeson
February 19 2012  | An LP and 2 others love thisLoveUnlove

...and if you had to travel by air (which may very likely be the case) my girlfriend and I are willing to cover your carbon offset :)

Maarten
Maarten
February 19 2012  | LoveUnlove

That would be great!!

Bart
Bart
February 21 2012  | Maarten and 3 others love thisLoveUnlove

you should travel back step by step... go to the shop, thank the salesboy/girl, ask for the distributor's address, go there, thank them and follow the whole chain to the people at the assembly line. If you need a cameraman during your journey, gimme a call :)

Ingetje Wielenga
Ingetje Wielenga
February 21 2012  | An LP and 2 others love thisLoveUnlove

Bart: great idea. Can't wait to see the docu about your favorite t-shirt Maarten! And if you need another cameraman, I have one here at home...

Maarten
Maarten
February 21 2012  | LoveUnlove

Yes, it's a nice addition. If this idea wins I'm so curious where I will end up...

Jolanda de Jonge
Jolanda de Jonge
February 22 2012  | Livia and Bart love thisLoveUnlove

Thank him/her by taking over his/her job for a day ore more....They probably don't have time to spend time with you...

Bart
Bart
February 22 2012  | LoveUnlove

Jol, jij hier!

An LP
An LP
February 24 2012  | LoveUnlove

In relation to this idea and including Bart's suggestion, I thought this link might be of your interest: "Victoria’s Secret Revealed in Child Picking Organic Cotton"
http://www.bloomberg.com/news-media/clarisse-kambire-victorias-secret-child-labor-cotton-picker/

People want to speak up, but we don't seem to listen...

Maarten
Maarten
February 24 2012  | LoveUnlove

Wow, thanks for sharing Andrea. Always disturbing to find out that something you figured would be good, like fairtrade organic cotton, is sometimes even then corrupt.

Jorinde
Jorinde
February 24 2012  | Philipp loves thisLoveUnlove

I don't see how this will make the world a better place..... ?

Adam Beeson
Adam Beeson
February 25 2012  | Ingetje Wielenga loves thisLoveUnlove

Thanks for your question; it’s a good one to ask.

First is recognition. Maarten would acknowledge the hard work of someone who provides a service for others but may never see the results. That person will not forget Maarten, the fact that he cares, and that he took the time to find and visit him or her. That one visit could certainly better one person’s world, at least for a moment or a day.

Second is awareness. We would learn about the conditions some workers have to face in factories and other areas of the supply chain, and the sacrifices they have to make (willingly or unwillingly), to provide for themselves and their families. We would know his or her name, and we could put a face to the labels we wear.

Third is action. With this information, we could take better decisions as consumers on where and what to buy – and stop purchasing what we know is harming others at the beginning, middle, or end of the chain. To function in an interconnected world, we need to be aware and take responsibility for our actions, because we are all a part of that chain and we decide what role we want to play.

A simple visit and Maarten’s documentation of it (with Bart’s help!) could inspire us all in different ways. And that, to us, is a better world :)

Adam and Andrea.

Lieza
Lieza
February 25 2012  | kim van heugten and 5 others love thisLoveUnlove

I have to say, I agree with Jorinde. Although Maarten deserves a holiday after a month of no shampoo, chocolate and toilet paper, this new idea will not affect a lot of unaware people. Most of the followers are already aware of the conditions abroad. Besides Maarten will spend a lot of money, might have to use polluting transport, without acutely helping any worker. Moreover the website’s public might not have the same favorite object as Maarten and the gathered information will not even be informative for them. I love the idea of this website, but would like to suggest to start with more local idea’s. The local media attention that Maarten already got this month is great and can cause the snowball affect Maarten is looking for if it continues.

Maarten
Maarten
February 26 2012  | kim van heugten and 4 others love thisLoveUnlove

Well, maybe not eating chocolate was actually good! God a bit rid of my sugar addiction and I lost at least a kilo!

Anyway, I don't want to defend this idea in favor of others, because honestly I would love to spread seeds around the city, have candlelight sleepovers, give workshops to kids etc... But there is one thing in this discussion that got me thinking, which is that it won't effect a lot of unaware people.

I don't think it matters if one person is effected or a lot of people. I believe change can start with just one person, and through the actions of that person others might be influenced and then you'll have a beautiful butterfly effect. So one person (even if that is you yourself) is all you need. :-)

The other thing I wonder is how aware we really are. I just spoke with a friend about this, and he told me he actually didn't know where the clothes he was wearing at that moment came from. And to be honest, I also have no idea about my socks (Hema) right now. I think most of us know that exploitation and child labor are still daily practices in certain countries and that companies still produce their products there. But do you know which companies? Most of the time I think we're in the shop and we think 'Ah, but Gstar is kinda ok no? I really need a jacket, so...' or 'Hema must produce fair no? I mean they're dutch!' or 'Yeah, but these shoes are vegetarian, so probably the rest is also good.' (ps, these are all my own items :-) My point here is, how aware are we when it doesn't make us change our actions. Would I really buy that jacket if I knew a 14 year old was working 18 hour shifts to produce it? Would I then not seriously look for an alternative? And I think sometimes we know, we just decide to ignore it. But we need the kind of knowledge which is unignorable. That would be awareness I guess and I think there is still a lot to gain.

And then another thing. What's often left out in programs that show you the exploitation and unfairness of the production chain, is an alternative. I think that's why people tend to keep buying what they did before (but with more guilt feeling), because they don't know what else to do. So I think that's sometimes missing, the alternatives.

In other words. I do think this is an interesting topic and I think there is a lot to discover. You can discus that this idea might not be the best way to do so, but it's a way.

Philipp
Philipp
February 26 2012  | kim van heugten loves thisLoveUnlove

I am with Jorinde here.
I think it's a great idea and probably lots of fun (but let's face it mostly for you, Maarten). There are already plenty of docus and articles about this subject and most people here probably know about it anyway. And if they don't I don't think they really want to know. And no doubt none of them would be convinced by Maartens little video.
Maarten, in your words everybody needs to go once in their live to a poor country to be absolutely convinced that pants for 10 Euro can't be produced ethically correct?
Going all the way to India, Bangladesh or in what ever low-wage-country your Hema socks were being produced wont help the big mass of poor workers there. Don't pollute by traveling and use the money for something that actually does help them in their situation (and I'm also including the sincere and noble idea of compensating the carbon offset by Adam and his girlfriend).

My suggestion would be to try to live one year (or month to start with) without buying clothing (or anything) of which you don't really know where it's been produced. Like that you would not "show the exploitation and unfairness of the production chain" again (as Maarten put it) but you would show the alternative.

Cause you can also find (Hema) socks made under fair conditions...

This all sounds a little harsh. I don't mean to offend anybody. I'm merely not convinced that it makes this world a better place.

Bart
Bart
February 26 2012  | Adam Beeson and 3 others love thisLoveUnlove

I really think this idea helps to make the world a better place. Just as the no waste for a month idea that Maarten is executing now. Of course I already knew that I should reduce waste and I should recycle more. But I notice that Maarten's actions really inspired me to go a little bit further. The usual things: take your own bag while shopping, ask people in shops to use less packaging or even none. But now it's more top-of-mind. The same goes for this idea: i don't expect to learn a lot of new things from Maarten traveling to some factory. But the intensity and personal approach that Maarten (hopefully) will have in his reports on this action will surely help to make the origin of my clothes an important issue. And for a lot of other followers as well, I am sure. And I am sure that I will influence other people as well when I change my behavior and talk to people about my ideas.

That there are plenty of docus and articles about a certain subject should never be a reason to not add something to it. If things don't change probably the subject didn't get enough attention yet.

It makes me think: how do you change things?
- you can perform an a small but intense action and have a lot of influence on a small group of followers (like this idea can be). You need to believe that this small group will itself spread change. Maybe this belief is called Hope.
- you work to make a small change in the right direction on a big scale (like people from Utz certified do for example).
- you can do something special enough for media to pay attention and in this way spread the ideas. That's what happened to Maarten two days ago :)

How do you think change happens?

Ingetje Wielenga
Ingetje Wielenga
February 26 2012  | kim van heugten and 4 others love thisLoveUnlove

Change happens here..
-I started to look different at my garbage production, went to buy things in bulk and have a greater awareness of waste and try a little harder.
-I started to think how great it would be to thank the person that made my favorite piece of clothing and see how this person lives and works. Like how great it is when you go out for dinner and you truly enjoyed your dinner and you can thank the cook.

of course this is just one of the aspects of the idea, but I believe it would contribute to our sense of connecting a product to it's production and the people and their conditions behind that. And sure there are already lot's of docu's etc made about this. But Maarten is also not the first to live without producing any garbage and that did have an influence on several levels.

Verena
Verena
February 26 2012  | Adam Beeson and 2 others love thisLoveUnlove

Change is already taking place in these discussions as well :) I find that I often agree with several viewpoints at the same time, so there seems to be something in every angle ;)

In the end, the majority decides and I will support the idea that makes it to next month by coming to the Hangout and brainstorming it into succes together with all the others :)

Ofcourse I do have a preference, but hey, who's to stop me from having my own Candle light sleepover once in a while? And I already have great plans for my own guerilla gardening in Arnhem (with Bee-friendly seeds). If anyone feels like joining me: you are more than welcome!

Philipp
Philipp
February 26 2012  | kim van heugten and Lieza love thisLoveUnlove

Ok, just picture this for a moment:

You, your partner and probably some of your children are working for about 50 cent each a day in a factory that is mass producing clothing for western department stores. Probably you sit 12 hours a day on a sewing machine making the same one seam all day long.
One day you go to work and there is this weird blond, tall guy with a nice smile and a camera on his head standing in front of the factory and speaking in a language you don't understand. After talking to some of your hundred colleagues you finally figure out that he is trying to thank you for your work.
This one blond guy did spend 1000 Euro to get here. An amount of money you and your family could easily live a few years off.

Well, I would think this guy had a funny idea, feels bad about injustice in the world and had a good time traveling the world. In other words he does all of this just for himself and his conscience.

@ Bart: How do I think "change happens"?
I think it is important to know and to make other aware of this exploitation. But I think Maarten should live the change the society needs here in Holland. And maybe slowly by setting an example convince others. If that's not enough for now he could try to find other ways to make people/consumers aware of this injustice.
Do research from Holland and share your knowledge, organize discussions and docu evenings about that subject, print posters/flyers and start a 'campagne' etc.

I know this sounds much less exciting than traveling thousand of kilometers and thanking poor workers in low-wage-countries but I think eventually it has the bigger impact.

An LP
An LP
February 26 2012  | kim van heugten and 5 others love thisLoveUnlove

There are many issues that need addressing in this world, and to each, there are different ways to help – but if we were all as aware as we say we are, we’d probably be too busy doing positive things on the ground to suggest ideas to Maarten! :) Each of us could choose to take action in something different from now on, and that would be – and probably will be – an amazing result of this project.

Some might like a certain idea or approach better than others, and that’s fine too. I agree with Verena. Everything has positive and negative angles, we could argue for and against every single idea here – we’ll never escape that – wish I could come to the hangout though! Maarten, let us know if you happen to set up the livestream.

Ingetje, Bart and Maarten have elaborated enough already on the value of this particular idea, so I won't. What I do want to say is that we're underestimating the reach of Maarten's project: I'm a Mexican in Austria and picked it up through the US magazine: GOOD, began following it and sharing it with friends back home and in other countries. I'm sure I'm not the only one that's doing this; Maarten's idea is very inspiring and we all wish we had been the ones to come up with it ;)

Maarten's project has a potential to reach many more people beyond Holland and the members in here – I’m sure it has already. Maarten, it might be interesting if you could share a map or list of countries that have visited your site - hopefully you have a hit counter installed…?

Bart
Bart
February 26 2012  | An LP loves thisLoveUnlove

@philip If I was that employee, I would find it weird that this guy came all the way. But if I would recognize that he does it as a contribution to change my situation, I would be thankful.
There are discussions and articles enough. This approach could reach much further because it's original approach. The 1000 dollar travel experience is nothing compared to the average campaign budget.
I still believe this actually is a good idea.

Bart
Bart
February 26 2012  | An LP and Philipp love thisLoveUnlove

@andrea nice to see that Maarten's project reaches that far! And of course we can argue forever and never agree, but discussing these topics is for me a good way to think , learn and develop my opinion. So keep on posting everybody

Philipp
Philipp
February 27 2012  | LoveUnlove

I think what I find difficult about this idea is that it sounds as if the people that are being exploited just need appreciation for their work. So someone goes there and thanks them. "Thank you for working so much for so little".

But never mind. If most people think this idea makes the world better maybe they are right. After all in a way they do represent the majority. Democracy. Maybe it's also enough if it makes their world better. I am ok with that.

Philipp
Philipp
February 27 2012  | kim van heugten and 5 others love thisLoveUnlove

Sorry, I have to comment again (last time, I promise ;-)).

With some peoples help I figured out what makes me go against this idea so much. It is the emphasis on 'traveling' and 'thanking' in the phrasing of it.
If the focus would be on the research and on the spreading of the gained information I would think it's great.

Bart
Bart
February 27 2012  | An LP loves thisLoveUnlove

@Philipp: it's all in the details and that goes also for phrasing the idea. I interpreted the idea much more as a way to make the chain from labour in some other country to your clothes more visible and especially the differences between maker and owner. I assume it'll change our behaviour if we are not so ignorant about the laborers that make our stuff. And i am curious: what happens to the laborers when they know one of the people they work for? If Maarten does it right, they might feel proud of their work.

And ofcourse Maarten doesn't need to go to China or further. A lot of clothes are made in Turkey or Maroc and even closer to our home.

An LP
An LP
February 28 2012  | Ingetje Wielenga loves thisLoveUnlove

@Philipp "Trace your favorite shirt to the factory where it was made" is research. This idea is not ignoring the fact that there needs to be research - it's assumed that there would be research, because there would be no other way of doing it.

"Tell us about his/her life" is spreading the information - but if this idea wins, it would be up to Maarten, his personality, his own approach and how he is inspired to take action: whether he decides to blog while he's doing it, do a documentary as he goes along, create a campaign when he returns, write something, etc.

You like the idea, just not the terminology ;)

-

As much as we can all suggest things to Maarten, his creativity plays a big role on how he actually executes them (like the "Look, and I'll smile" t-shirt he designed for the "Smile to everybody you have eye contact with" idea). From research to spreading the info, it's usually an organic process, it evolves as it goes and it's an unpredictable result at this very stage when the idea hasn't even won yet; regardless of what we say, research and spreading would happen, but neither of both can we tell him exactly how to do.

What we can tell to him, is to go and to meet this person - but to acknowledge him/her - not just use him/her for a story. The "thanking" part of the idea, to me, is extremely important. It's bringing the human part and giving a face to the research and to the spreading of the gained information. It's the reason why to do this! To connect with someone, to know his/her name, to learn more about his/her story. Otherwise, it's just nameless made-up faces that we think about when we hear "exploited worker" - sure, we still feel sorry and guilty, yet we don't do anyting about it. I really believe we would change habits after knowing this person - if we haven't already started thinking about it ;)

As much as "things" need to change, the way we "see" also needs to change - we need to acknowledge the mindset we are in, analyse how we see the world and how we fit in it all - I honestly believe this is the very very first individual step to action and what a better place than this website to do so! :)

Going back to the "travel" part of the idea, without it, whether a short or long distance, none of it could happen. And as Bart points out, there are places where things are produced, that are much closer to Rotterdam than our immediate thought of China. Which brings me to the following: it may be that the item Maarten chooses comes from a brand with satisfied employees who live well and then the story would be a positive one - focusing on what brands and factories should be doing (instead of what they shouldn't) - and this could be one of "the alternatives" that Maarten mentioned.

Either way, I really do see a big potential here, both because it's a challenge and because of what Maarten would bring into it. And if this idea doesn't win, well... I'll add it to my list of idealistic things to do! :)

An LP
An LP
February 28 2012  | Bart loves thisLoveUnlove

And also, maybe this actually inspires someone else, somewhere else, to take more action than just changing habits! The potential for the multiplying effect is huge with the reach that this website can - and I'm sure - will have.

Li
Li
February 28 2012  | Philipp loves thisLoveUnlove

As much as I love the idea of a documentary of Maarten tracing back his favorite shirt, I feel this idea is too big and/or elaborate. Realizing this idea would take up much time, money and effort while all this time, money and effort can be put into the realization of multiple smaller ideas (that I would like to see realized). That is why I vote against it. It is a matter of how I feel Maarten his time, money and effort could be spend best, keeping the concept of this website in mind.

Bart
Bart
February 29 2012  | An LP loves thisLoveUnlove

This idea being quite big and costing time, money and effort is just the thing i love of it. Ofcourse spending so many resources brings the obligation to spread the results of the idea. I can think of many ways that Maarten can get help of the community on this website. He can use crowdfunding to raise the money, ask people to help him making the documentary, ask people to help get attention for his actions, etc.

I think this website is also about making Maarten do things he wouldn't choose to do himself. Spreading seeds, dance for charity, meditate, smile to people: those are examples of nice idea's, but maybe a little bit too easy. We should get Maarten out of his comfortzone (like the no waste for a month does this month).

Maarten
Maarten
February 29 2012  | Ingetje Wielenga and An LP love thisLoveUnlove

Hehe, funny to read what peoples opinions are about this project and what they think I should do, sometimes I feel like writing 'Guys, I'm right here!! I can read everything!!'

@Li, thanks for explaining why you voted 'Don't do this'. I understand your reasoning. I agree that it's quite a big idea, I'm not sure where I will get in a month. And I also think multiple smaller ideas can have a great impact. If this idea wins though, I don't want to be scared (even though I might be a bit :-) of the bigness of this idea, and just go for it and see where the flow will bring it. I'm sure something valuable will come out.

@Bart, hey, the domain is not www.getmaartenoutofhiscomfortzone.com! ps. easy? maybe small, but not necessarily easy... I dare you to try them!! hehe :-)

Bart
Bart
February 29 2012  | LoveUnlove

@Maarten ofcourse not too far out of your comfort zone ofcourse, but i like the ideas most that are different from the things that any other idealist could do. And while executing the ideas i think the process of doing it and reporting about it are very important, more important than succeeding.

Bart
Bart
February 29 2012  | Maarten and 2 others love thisLoveUnlove

@maarten ofcourse dancing for charity is much easier for you that it would be for me :) (and it would be much more appreciated by the audience)

Li
Li
February 29 2012  | Ingetje Wielenga and 2 others love thisLoveUnlove

@ Maarten: if you end up realizing this idea, I will follow it with great enthusiasm nonetheless (because as an idea an sich, apart from what I feel the concept of this website is about, it is great) ;)

@ Bart: I understand your reasoning :) I am just more sympathetic towards 'smaller' ideas. The little things that everybody could (should?) do without putting in too much effort. Is it not just gloating to watch Maarten get out of his comfort zone? ;)

Joan
Joan
February 29 2012  | Lieza and 2 others love thisLoveUnlove

Maarten is the executor of idea(l)s that the contributors of his site propose and are not able/willing to execute themselves, thereby serving as a source of inspiration for all of us. I think most of us we feel we should inquire more about the production chain of the products we buy. You would do this by investigating internet, finding data at existing organizations that deal with these issues etc., not by going to a factory somewhere: that´s work for journalists, celebrities and NGOs, not for individuals/customers.

Anyway, it seems this idea will win. I´m absolutely sure Maarten will find an inspiring way to fill it in. Maarten: after the next month it would be great if your ´followers´ would have a better idea and guidelines about what they are buying when buy clothes. I suggest this is the goal of your mission. So do some good research and report it to us. Traveling abroad is only a secondary part of this research, let´s call it a case study, but definitely not the most important thing, you could even skip it ;) Those were my thoughts

Davide
Davide
March 1 2012  | Bart loves thisLoveUnlove

jeeeeeeeeee

anonymous user

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