‘I was hungry and you fed me, I was sick and you visited me, I needed clothes and you clothed me’
How I live is important to Jesus. He determines whether I truly loved him by seeing how I treat other people. Less talk, more action, if you like. I reckon its a good system.
Well, I haven’t clothed any poor people lately, but it appears the poor have been clothing me.
I came home from Kmart a few months ago, pretty pleased with how many kids’ t-shirts and leggings I’d bought for about $24. I think at the time, I knew they were sweatshop clothes, but the fact that they were all half price made me feel that at least Kmart was getting less of a cut and so I justified my spending to myself. Of course this did not change the few cents per item that the seamstresses get. Sweatshop workers earn about $26 a month in Bangladesh and about $52 a month in China.
About what I spend on cheese.
Over 1000 people died recently in a sweatshop clothing factory collapse in Bangladesh, and the sad story of this little girl was published recently, when a reporter went undercover. How can I buy that stuff? How can I participate in so inhumane a trade? How could it be ok for me to benefit from this type of slavery?
What’s the answer? I think buying fair trade stuff has got to be a big part of it. ( I recently switched to fair trade coffee, the coffee trade is a whole other story of disenfranchisement) Fair trade stuff can be expensive, but like with organic food, prices will drop as demand increases.
My inclination is to suggest that consuming less over all is a part of the solution. I don’t have the economic training to know what a massive drop in consumption would do for various economies. But I do know that for us westerners, a massive drop in consumption is enormously good for us. It’s good for our creativity, our gratefulness, our contentedness and our hip pocket.
I do believe that one of the best things we can do for our kids is to spend less money on them, and more time with them. Of course, this is wealthy-busy-parent advice. In Asia, we certainly saw many children who badly needed money spent on them.
Despite coping fine for a year in Asia with only three outfits each, we have, of course, somehow managed to double or triple our wardrobes since. Accumulation is something I really have to fight against. It’s kind of insidious.
And of course, I believe in reduce. repair, recycle and all that.
But does any of this really make a difference? Is it ‘think global-act local?’ Is it a good place to start? Or is it yet more vain preoccupation with my own life and my own choices? While, all the time, little children sit and sew on concrete floors for 12 hours a day.
Not sure. What do you think?
I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this, so I’m giving away a $75 voucher for Novica, an online fairtrade shop. Seriously, you should check out their gorgeous jewellery and pretty clothes and just really lovely stuff. Its all handcrafted by people who got paid well for their day’s work, and went home with money to feed their kids. Isn’t that where our spending money should go? You can buy this stuff with a clear conscience, and of course, give it all away at Christmas!
So, leave a comment here on this blog post, OR on my facebook page, and that counts as your entry to win the voucher. I’ll draw a winner using a yet-to-be-decided random method that will probably involve my two-year old.
So, what do you think? Do you buy fair trade? How should sweatshop situations be changed? Is it ok that the poor are clothing the rest of us?