Conflict Resolution

Ethical fashion companies are mindful of the materials they use in order to help prevent children from child labor, being sent to war, and being involved in unspeakable situations no child should ever have to experience. Ethical fashion companies like Hearts work to promote peace and prosperity, and make every effort to insure the most beneficial outcome in the name of fashion and everyone involved. The trouble is that consumers are rarely aware about how their purchases support unjust wars and violence.

War and Conflict Abounds

Did you know industry and consumerism actually contribute to war and conflict? It’s true. How you spend your dollars has the potential to impact parts of the world embroiled in violent conflict.

Though we understand on an intellectual level that violent conflict affects humanity, most of us remain fairly removed from the devastating impact of this violence around the globe. The media doesn’t talk about it and many large corporations don’t want you to know about it. Here is the reality:  

  • Approximately 1.5 billion people live in war-torn regions.[i]
  • Nearly 20,000 children are killed or maimed annually by landmines.[ii]
  • Close to 500,000 women have been raped in the last decade as a means of control or intimidation.[iii]

The tragedy of war is inescapable.

Cheap Consumer Goods Support War

It’s true that political and ethnic strife are often the underlying causes for war.  Yet many wars are fought over resources. Conflicts arise internally between tribes, political factions or religious groups and externally between nations. The source of these conflicts can be oil, diamonds, tungsten, or other valuable resources. 

But hard goods aren’t the only cause of war. Many social scientists predict that the next resource to incite war and violent conflict will be water.

  • Current water scarcity: Nearly one billion people do not have safe drinking water.[iv]
  • Growing water scarcity with climate change: As earth’s population rises and global warming leads to drought, people will become even more desperate for this precious, limited resource. This will certainly lead to violence as people fight for survival.
  • Big business needs vast quantities of water: Harvesting and manufacturing things like diamonds, cotton, oil, and gas requires huge quantities of water. And of course, because fashion depends on these resources – especially water – it will be at the center of some of these resource conflicts.
  • Corporations buying up rights to water: Some multinational corporations are buying water rights. They purchase or lease large swaths of undeveloped land where water resources are plentiful. Their owner’s rights or lease terms give them exclusivity to harvest water for 50-99 years.[v] Indigenous cultures are suddenly denied access to their local water resources.

Without water, indigenous people can’t grow food, nourish animals, cook meals, or even hydrate themselves. Certainly we can see how this will lead to war and conflict.

Regardless of the reason for the conflict, wars interrupt commerce, destroy homes and public buildings, create food and water shortages, disrupt education and cause thousands of deaths.  

Consumers Have the Power

Hearts believes that we have the power to stop conflict! Though it may occur on foreign soil, you can use your purchasing power to support peace and prosperity worldwide. Ethical consumerism has a reversing impact on the human tragedies of conflict and war. Ethical fashion fights conflict by:

  • Prohibiting the use of conflict minerals and blood diamonds.
  • Eliminating the factors that contribute to violence – like poverty, discrimination, corruption, and environmental injustice – by creating fair trade fashion and by ethically producing and sourcing materials used in their eco fashion pieces.
  • Prohibiting slavery of any kind, especially child labor.

Socially conscious companies like Hearts raise awareness and funds to support the causes of reconciliation and understanding. The sustainable fashion industry can influence government policy by supporting legislative initiatives that seek justice and promote peace.

Ultimately, it’s consumers who send signals to businesses. Wield your buying power wisely. Support companies that act with the best interests of the people and the planet we share.  By choosing ethical fashion, you reinforce a people-centered, conscious consumption model that focuses peace humanity and our environment.

War is a complex problem. The solution for ending and preventing violent conflict is multi-faceted too.  But every individual can effect change. Want to know what you can do? Dive deeper.

World Issue - Conflict Resolution -             

[i] EPIIC 2011-2012: Conflict in the 21st Century. (2011, June 22). Retrieved April 27, 2012, from Tufts University - The Institute for Global Leadership:

[ii] Chapter 2: What does the United Nations do to Promote Peace and Security? (n.d.). Retrieved April 26, 2012, from United Nations:

[iii] Facts & Figures on Peace and Security. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2012, from UN Women: 

[iv]  (Pogge, 2003)

[v] Hall, D., & Lobina, E. (2012, March). Conflicts, companies, human rights and water - A critical review of local corporate practices and global corporate initiatives. Retrieved April 26, 2012, from Public Services International Research Unit: