offers Fair Trade tee shirt alternatives

Shopkeepers who don’t want to sell t-shirts produced in sweatshops or with child labor are still waiting to find out how the marketing department at is going to supply information about the origins of their products. Fortunately Cafepress offers shopkeepers the option of choosing which products to offer for a given design, so I will continue to offer their products identified as either union made or made by American Apparel, whose fair labor practices are well documented.

In the meantime, I will start offering tee shirts through Skreened uses only shirts made by American Apparel and donates 10% of its sales to a not-for-profit called Asia’s Hope. So when you wear one of their shirts, you know it was not made with inhuman labor practices or child labor.

Here are the same Arabic language tees I have been offering now in summer colors from Skreened:

The green shirt is based on the “T-shirt of mass destruction” that got Raed Jarrer thrown off of Jet Blue airlines. It says “We will not be silent”, in Arabic pronounced “lahn nesmitt”, and has the English translation underneath. The one pictured has dark blue letters, you can also get black letters.

The white shirt says “I heart New York”, also in Arabic. So far, you can also heart Chicago, Jordan, Amman, and Baghdad. If you want to heart something or someone I don’t have listed, post a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

The slogan on the yellow tee is from a sign I saw at an impromptu street demonstration while Christmas caroling at Daley Plaza. It says “Who would Jesus torture”. If you are fond of the Geneva Convention, there are several designs with this slogan.

You can check out the designs here.


Related posts:

Make a difference on World Fair Trade Day–contact CafePress
Is hiding sweatshops?
CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern


CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern

Last week I wrote about CafePress and their plan to discontinue a tee shirt made by American Apparel, a manufacturer known for its fair labor practices–and substitute a T-shirt made by an unknown source.

In a letter I wrote to them, I pointed out that I offer only sweatshop-free T-shirts. If I can’t determine the source of a shirt, I can’t offer it for sale. I also pointed out that the market for free trade coffee has grown by 75% in the last year. There is no reason the fair trade t-shirt market can’t grow as well.

Monday I received a reply from Director of Merchandise Cindy Clarke. Ms. Clarke writes:


I understand your concerns.  CafePress shopkeepers require a broad
spectrum of product choices to build their product assortments.  Since
our objective is to cover as many of those shopkeeper requirements as
possible, some of the items that we source are domestic and some are
sourced internationally.  Likewise, our product assortment covers both
branded and CafePress Exclusive Label items to meet the broad demand.
We leave it up to Shopkeepers to determine which products are
appropriate for their shops.  CafePress services as many Shopkeepers as
possible both legally and ethically.  

We have had several requests like yours for specific and detailed
information about our vendors and we are currently investigating how
when we can provide specific information about individual vendors.
more detailed information is available we will communicate out to the
CafePress community. 

Best wishes,

Cindy Clarke
Director of Merchandise

Well, that’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that CafePress can have something manufactured on the cheap in a sweatshop and hide it behind their “exclusive store label.” The good news is that they are “investigating how and when“, not if, they can provide information about vendors. That would give some real alternatives to those of us who don’t want to sell or wear a t-shirt, however cheap, made possible by inhumane working conditions and child labor.CafePress needs to hear from more people who buy or sell t-shirts. If you have not yet written to CafePress, can you take a couple minutes to drop them an email? If you have a blog, you might consider blogging about it as well.


Related posts:
Make a difference on World Fair Trade Day–contact CafePress
Is hiding sweatshops?


Make a difference on World Fair Trade Day–contact CafePress

So what have you done today to promote Fair Trade?

Here’s something you can do without leaving your keyboard. Contact and ask them to provide product information so that people who want to buy t-shirts that aren’t made in sweat shops can figure out what to buy.

Why is this important? Last year the National Labor Committee reported that companies like Walmart and Hanes use child labor to manufacture their oh so cheap products. Some CafePress products come from Hanes. Here is what work conditions were like for those children:

The children report being routinely slapped and beaten, sometimes falling down from exhaustion, forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day, even some all-night, 19- to 20-hour shifts, often seven days a week, for wages as low as 6 and a half cents an hour. The wages are so wretchedly low that many of the child workers get up at 5 a.m. each morning to brush their teeth using just their finger and ashes from the fire, since they cannot afford a toothbrush or toothpaste.

The workers say that if they could earn just 36 cents an hour, they could climb out of misery and into poverty, where they could live with a modicum of decency.

In the month of September, the children had just one day off, and before clothing shipments had to leave for the U.S., the workers were often kept at the factory 95 to 110 hours a week. After being forced to work a grueling all-night 19- to 20-hour shift, from 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 a.m. the following day, the children sleep on the factory floor for two or three hours before being woken to start their next shift at 8 a.m. that same morning.

The child workers are beaten for falling behind in their production goal, making mistakes or taking too long in the bathroom (which is filthy, lacking even toilet paper, soap or towels).

Thursday, Jim over at Irregular Times wrote a piece about CafePress replacing one of its ethically produced shirts manufactured by American Apparel, which is well-known for ethical labor practices, with a shirt of unknown source. He suggested people Email CafePress with their concerns, sending the email either to:

a) Cindy Clarke, Director of Merchandise for CafePress, at
b) — the special e-mail account which CafePress has specifically created to take further questions about new merchandise

Today Jim reports that he has received a communication from Ms. Clarke saying she has received “several requests like yours for specific and detailed information about our vendors”. Cafepress needs to hear from more people.

Whether you are a seller or a buyer, please take a few minutes to send a note to CafePress asking them to provide sourcing information about their vendors.

Here is my letter:

Ms. Clarke:

I am concerned about your recent announcement to substitute an unspecified brand of “junior jersey tee” for the “baby doll” tee manufactured by American Apparel, a company well known for ethical labor practices.

I advertise all the T-shirts I offer as ethically produced or sweatshop free. If I can’t identify the sourcing of the item, that means I can’t offer it for sale.

That also means I can’t use CafePress for my most popular item, a black tee, since CafePress does not offer a union or fair trade version of the black tee.

There seems to be no place on the CafePress website that gives product information, particularly about t-shirts. The information I have about your product sources comes from other websites and blogs–hopefully they are portraying CafePress goods and services accurately.

Last year the fair trade coffee industry grew by 75%. There is no reason the fair trade T-shirt market can’t grow as well.

I hope Cafepress can make it easier to identify your product sources for those of us who wish to offer union and fair trade products for our buyers.

The Camel’s Nose


Related posts:
Is hiding sweatshops?
CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern

Is hiding sweatshops?

Now that the semester is over, I have a little time to contemplate what is happening with the products I offer in the side widgets. I thought I might be adding some more products and some more slogans, but now it looks like I might be spending the short break before summer session deleting products that I’m currently offering through

When I first started blogging, first at MySpace, then at Blogger, I decided all the products I offered would be sweatshop free. Having lived abroad, I have seen firsthand the difference that scrutiny–whether from sponsors abroad or from members of the royal family–can make in the lives of the ordinary people. A good part of what I blog about is the developing Arab world. I want this blog to be part of the solution for finding a world that is fair, a world where children can go to school instead of working, a world where everyone has a chance at a future, a world where people have choices about their lives and their work. This kind of economically fair and interconnected world would be much less likely to go to war.

fairtradelogo.gifIt wouldn’t make much sense for me to talk about economic development then turn around and act like profits are more important than people. Surely both are possible. Fair tade coffee experienced a 75% growth last year alone. Awareness about fair trade alternatives has been stronger in Europe, but American awareness–and the market for fairly traded items–is likely to grow.

So then, what about CafePress? Why delete shirts? CafePress has decided to discontinue their American Apparel “Baby Doll” style shirt, and in its place, substitute something called a “Junior Jersey Tee.” Neither this shirt or their new maternity shirt is made by American Apparel, a company well known for its fair labor practices. But who makes the shirts, and under what conditions?

Unlike some other internet fulfillment companies, the CafePress website does not provide product information–at least none that I can find. Not in the general information areas and not in the community forums. So how do I know the products I offer here are sweatshop free? Most, no, all of my information about their products comes from the folks at, who have done a lot of research into products, fair labor practices, and fair trade. Chicago Fair Trade also has an interesting piece about clothing fairness issues.

Be assured that I will continue to offer only fairly manufactured items. I will be attempting to correspond with the CafePress product information people to try to find out something about these new products. If I can’t determine that they are sweat free, I’ll be removing the “Junior Jersey Tee” from my offerings.


Related posts:

Make a difference on World Fair Trade Day–contact CafePress
CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern


I Heart Baghdad–a New Arabic Language T-shirt

By request, a new T-shirt that says in Arabic “I heart Baghdad” for a co-worker who knows someone serving in Iraq. T-shirts are sweatshop free and ethically produced.

In addition to the popular “We will not be silenced” black T-shirt, pronounced “lahn nesmit”, also in Arabic language.

Posted in Arabic, Products. Comments Off on I Heart Baghdad–a New Arabic Language T-shirt

“We will not be silent”–the T-shirt of Mass Destruction–in Arabic

Visit the store for Arabic language T-shirts here.


Ethically produced and sweatshop-free.

Yes, this is the slogan on the “T-shirt of mass destruction” that got Raed Jarrar kicked off the airplane in New York.

It says in Arabic, “We will not be silent.”

Posted in Arabic, Arabs, Government, Products. Comments Off on “We will not be silent”–the T-shirt of Mass Destruction–in Arabic

Gear of the 2008 Republican Presidential Candidates

Conservative and right-wing presidential candidate gear for GOP for Election 2008!

If you are looking for this kind of campaign button, magnet or car bumper sticker:


click on the name of your candidate to see the gear:

Mike Bloomberg for President in 2008

Rudy Guiliani for President in 2008

Mike Huckabee for President in 2008

John McCain for President in 2008

Ron Paul for President in 2008

Mitt Romney for President in 2008

Fred Thompson for President in 2008

Then of course there’s the perenial none-of-the-above candidate first introduced on the Smothers Brothers TV comedy show:

Pat Paulson for President in 2008

Posted in Election 2008, Products. Comments Off on Gear of the 2008 Republican Presidential Candidates