“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want” Anna Lappe
The tragic factory collapse in Bangladesh last month was a harsh reminder of the relationship between First World consumer demand for cheap goods, and the devastating consequences for factory workers in the Third World. Many westerners point the finger at the factory’s landlords, but our demand for products at cheap prices is driving this machine. Ultimately, we western consumers are partially responsible.
So how can we, as part of the cause, become part of the solution? How can we begin to steer this beast in a different direction? Here are a few ideas.
Buy fair trade when possible
If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, choose to buy only fair trade (it is often the same price as all the other coffees on the supermarket shelf). If they don’t sell fair trade at your local cafe, ask them to. Look out for other fair trade items at the supermarket, and buy them. The more we increase demand for them, the more our supermarkets will have to supply them.
Fair trade food can be expensive – but the reality is that this reflects the REAL cost of food – where everyone receives a fair wage. If you cannot afford fair trade, you should question whether or not you can afford to own the item. If you go for the non fair trade item, you are helping to drive the underpaid labour market.
Buy New Zealand Made
Clothing (and other items) made in New Zealand are not cheap. But again, that reflects the true cost of the item. Going for the more expensive item may just make you think twice before you buy yet another item that you don’t actually need.
Just don’t buy that thing
When we buy that cheap top, we are so removed from the implications that it has on another human being’s life and livelihood, that we don’t even think twice about it. If the shoe was on the other foot, and your very life, and the survival of your children depended on where your counterparts across the world shopped, you would be desperate for them to think before buying yet another thing they hardly needed or wanted.
Shopping less serves a double purpose. Too much stuff makes us stressed, so the less stuff we have to look after, the less stressed we’ll be.
As Mums, we are big contributors to consumer spending – we are often the ones who buy the groceries, the clothing, and other consumables for our families. Imagine the change we could make if we all became just a tiny bit more fired up. We don’t have to all be out there pounding the streets with billboards, but we can ALL do SOMETHING. If we start demanding more fair trade options, and hesitate before marching into another fast fashion shop, maybe slowly, we can actually make a difference.
I for one, am going to try! I’d love you to join me in trying to make a small difference from your corner of the world.