Thursday, 20 May 2010

Life's A Debate: Stash or Slash (or How some companies find it so hard to recycle)

My darling devotees,

A couple of nights ago, I watched Blood, Sweat and Luxuries a TV show about a couple of privileged young British consumers who are taken to the parts of Asia and Africa where some of their luxury goods are originally sourced and made to experience the low standards of living that the average third-world luxury good worker has to survive with. In the episode I watched, the young adults were taken to Ethiopia, to work on coffee plantations and in coffee drying factories, alongside local workers, and to try and survive on the ridiculously low wages (of about a $1 a day ) the people have to survive on each day. By the end of the episode, quite a few of them had formed some pretty strong opinions about the luxury good industry at large and the coffee industry in particular. Some were tearing up at the injustice of it all and others claimed to be determined to buy only fair trade from now on. In another episode, they were horrified by how much of the toxic technological trash of the West ends up on the coast of countries like Ghana, and appalled by the poverty in which the people who mine gold live.

Watching this show filled me with so much sadness and a huge sense of injustice. I try to focus on the bright side and good things in life as much as possible but I am very aware that there are many things wrong with the world in which we live. I do not divorce myself from it and pretend it doesn't exist, instead I acknowledge it's presence and try to fix what ails the world while not letting it get me down. I am amazed by the number of people that can be aware of all the hurt and turn a blind eye. Some claim that you can't fix everything so why even try, but just because you can't save everyone doesn't mean you shouldn't save anyone. No one can person can save the world alone but I really believe that if we all make an effort, we can really change things up.

Now the debate comes in with what exactly is constituted as making an effort? Should clothing companies be allowed to slash their unsold goods when there are people desperately in need of clothing all over the world? Should luxury good refiners in the first world be allowed to pay so little for the primary goods they get from the third world countries when they make so much more from the finished goods? My answer to both questions is no, but that's just my opinion. I don't own any of these companies or have any direct influence on them so alone I probably can't make them change but if more people support stores that are fair trade then there will be pressure on the other companies to change.
But yeah. Now you know where I stand on the fair trade issue, I would love to know what you all think about fair trade and any of the other similar issues, like buying cheap clothes that are non- fair trade, which probably means they come from sweat shops, as opposed to buying slightly more expensive clothing. Give me your opinions about what ails the world and how we should fix it in the comments below.

Love you all and Stay inspired,

P.S. So let me know what you think. Are you vegan or vegetarian for the environment? What do you think about fair trade? Do you think that their should be policies prohibiting things like slashing unused goods? What about policies about recycling and pollution? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.


Anonymous said...

This was such an eye-opening article. I got to learn about first trade as, when in college, I had to take part in a Community/Voluntary Service program and I chose to tend the local Fair Trade shop (having NO idea what Fair Trade is). Once I learnt about what it was all about, I was immediately introduced to a world I had no knowledge of, and in hindsight, maybe at 16 I failed to understand its importance. I must say that I feel that I don't do much to contribute to this issue, however I do feel bad about it, and this article has really been inspiring and I will strive to opt for Fair Trade products whenever I can. As regards to Policies, I don't think it's that easy to give a go ahead on policies pertaining to this issue, even though ideally it would be fantastic. However, I think it's important that when policy makers decide upon issues, they weigh costs other than financial ones, including social costs such as this issue of third world country labour.


sabine cara said...

I had to do a project on fair trade once, and yeah, I love that feeling when I buy fair trade stuff. But, and I hate myself, I'm temporarily sad and I always feel horribly guilty whenever I am reminded of the fact that I'm NOT buying something thats fair trade, but I just let it pass and end up buying it anyway. I hate it, I really do. So I guess I'm trying to make an effort to buy as much FT stuff as possible!
LOVE this post.
xx scarzz

ellie said...

I wish I could do more. I know there are so many unfair things happening in other countries & even our own. I did like buying goods a World Market..only ours closed down. I like to buy my shoes from TOMS so I can at least feel I've given someone shoes..somewhere. And we do grow vegetables. Then there is thrifting. Recyling clothes. Giving clothes that I don't use anymore either for someone I know who I think might like it or just Good Will. But most of my DIY projects are from clothes I can't use anymore to create something else. It could be a patchwork blanket or a hat.

I also enjoy hearing other people's stories about family ingenuity. I was shocked to find out my boss who was raised in Trindad used to kill her own chickens..and only likes home grown animals to eat, but she's mainly vegan now.

misty said...

Very insightful. I guess we can try in our own little way, but its a struggle for all of us. And it is great when you do find programs that are trying to help hunger, or recyling cyles for others in 3rd world countries.

I don't always like to recyle because a lot of times I feel my space is cluttered with it, yet it was Dad who always made us feel pretty guilty if we didn't. He always made us walk more, learn to garden and do our best to help others.

PinkBow said...

thought provoking post. i've been vegetarian for over 20 years more of a distaste of meat than the environment but still i think it's a good thing to be

meg said...

Certainly, a lot to think about. Thanks for posting about it.

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