Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Does it matter

Been thinking a lot about what we buy and what we use. Just keep wondering if it really makes a difference.

My thinking got started on this when for the first time in over 12 months we took our children to McDonalds, the trays that had food on them had a nutritional guide map printed on them. I kept thinking about the film "supersize me" maybe it had something to do with McDonalds greater transparency.

Then you look at clothing, like Gap, Nike, Guess, Forever 21, Levi Strauss and you see their use of sweatshops and child labour. Should we stop buying clothes from these people? Do we care? Does it matter? Of course none of us like the idea of child labour but what happens when the factories get shut down?

Found this quote in an interesting article here with regards to a book called "Where am I wearing" by Kelsey Timmerman "It's important to take a realistic look at the situation. What do we really imagine will happen to these children if they stop working in factories? That they'll suddenly be given opportunities for education? As Timmerman points out, the alternative is more likely begging, brick-breaking or sex work. None of which is to say child labor is acceptable; just that our knowledge and concern — and activism — needs to go beyond easy shades of black and white."

What about coffee, has anyone seen the movie Black Gold looking at the global coffee industry. Where does it all end?

Then there are the supermarkets discount retailers like Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, Carrefour, and Walmart try to lure consumers into their shops with low, low prices. A man’s suit for £25 at Tesco, a woman’s dress for $9 at Walmart, or jeans for €8 at Carrefour. How do they do it? Check out the Better Bargain Campaign

What do we end up doing? Do we seriously have the time and the money to insure that our expenditure is pure and that all the companies we deal with are ethically sound?

My friend Pete Kernohagn is holding an event in Green Island N.Ireland, called All Work and No play, from the 3rd - 7th August with an auction on the 8th, to raise awareness about sweatshops in Cambodia. You should go, join up via facebook HERE


Carla said...

I find this a challenging subject. I had this odd moment when I was worshipping with my church a few years ago where I felt like a hypocrite asking God to right the wrongs in the world whilst wearing fashionable clothing made by the people I was praying for... Steve and I have shopped fair trade in the clothing department ever since... but you're right. Maybe that's not enough... xc

john heasley said...

I remember hearing the story of a reporter asking mother Theresa if she really made a difference, after all, her work is just a drop in the ocean, she replied that the ocean is made up of drops. I think all we do makes a difference, but it has to be personal decisions.

Cardozo said...

In regard to sweatshops, shutting down factories is not the goal of the global anti-sweatshop movement.

On the contrary, we want conditions to improve and strongly discourage apparel companies from "cutting and running" from factories where terrible conditions exist.

We need to pressure companies to use their leverage and some of their profits to create a healthier environment in subcontractor factories.