September 04, 2020

The Humanitarian Side of Sustainability: Helping People & the Planet

Paul Patterson

Here on ReelTalk, we discuss sustainable living quite a bit. However, many of us often forget about the humanitarian side of it all and the role that it plays in our journey toward a more sustainable future.

The humanitarian side of sustainability has much to do with the textile industry.

In making the world a better place, we can’t forget about those who need our help. Sustainability is meaningless unless everyone can enjoy it — especially underpaid workers and those in developing countries.

Here’s everything you need to know about sustainable humanitarianism.

Sustainable & Humanitarian Practices

Around the globe, there are people working far too much and being paid far too little. Usually in the textile industry, these workers primarily live in the developing world where labor is cheap.

However, some are also closer to home. In fact, a 2016 New York Times article outed a Los Angeles clothing manufacturer for underpaying local workers.

In order to build a truly sustainable society, developing countries need the opportunity to grow and progress. They can’t do that with chronically underpaid workers.

“Sustainability — it’s not just a climate issue, it’s a human rights issue too.” — Brooke Bobb, Vogue

Many people feel as though they can’t do anything to help underpaid workers, but that’s simply not true. As consumers, we have a great deal of power — more than enough to affect change.

Fortunately, there are plenty of companies out there who ethically source materials and use factories that pay workers fair wages. By shopping with companies that have ethical practices and avoiding those that don’t, we can pressure large corporations to do the right thing.

It’s fairly easy to learn about a company’s material sourcing and labor practices. Most humanitarian-driven companies have this information readily available on their website. Additionally, there are a handful of third-party certifications that ensure fair treatment of workers.

On food products, for example, the Fair Trade Certified label means that producers have been paid enough to invest in themselves and their businesses. This label also demonstrates a willingness to promote sustainability and community well-being.

Certified B Corporations

Of all the third-party humanitarian certifications available, certified B Corporations stand above the rest. The B Corp certification gives businesses a way to show that they actively ensure that their total impact is a positive one.

Certified B Corps are pillars humanitarian sustainability
Image courtesy of Certified B Corp

In order to become a certified B Corp, companies must undergo an exhaustive screening process. During this process, the business is evaluated for how its decisions impact its workers and customers as well as the local community and environment.

Once a company is certified, they keep getting better. In fact, the B Corp community is continuously working to make the world a better place for everyone and everything in it.

For those interested in doing business with B Corps, there’s an up-to-date directory to help you find a company that meets your needs. Some notable B Corps include Patagonia, Ben and Jerry’s, and Allbirds.

Reel’s Humanitarian Mission

At Reel, we’re also on a humanitarian mission. A mission to bring health, safety, and dignity to developing countries around the world.

Unfortunately, many communities lack access to clean water and working bathrooms. As a result, people are forced to relieve themselves in public. This dilemma creates a humanitarian crisis as it has the potential to spread dangerous waterborne illnesses.

In order to fight this humanitarian issue, Reel has partnered with SOIL to remove waste from communities and turn it into strong, useful fertilizer. Together, we can help people lead the safe and enjoyable lives they deserve.

Humanitarianism & Sustainability Together

This planet belongs to everyone who lives here, so when we make the world a better place, we do so for everyone’s benefit. Too often we forget about underpaid factory workers and those struggling in other countries.

By supporting companies who care about people, we can truly make the world a brighter, more sustainable place.

What are your favorite people-loving companies? Let us know in the comments!

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