In the wake of the April 24th Bangladesh factory collapse, I have read so many articles questioning the morals of people who still shop cheap. I have to admit I do shop cheap, especially when it comes to children’s clothes and here is why.
I saw an article on the guardian “Top 10 ethical places to shop for children’s clothes”. A visit to one of the shop uncovers one baby bodysuit for £10 (you can get a set of 5 for £3 in most of the cheap shops). My son usually needs two sets of clothes everyday. One to wear to his minders place and another in his bag just in case he needs a change. Bibs on one of the ethical sites is going for £7.99 while a simple T-shirt is sold for a whopping £21. To cloth my son for a day from one of these shop would cost me a whopping £144 (bodysuit, socks, t-shirt, trouser, bib and spare clothes in bag). His weekly attire would cost £432; minus shoes. According to a UK survey, on average, babies wear an item just 12 times. Baby clothes are also designed to be worn over a three months span hence the size labelling 3-6 months, 6-9 months etc. In this current economic climate to ask a parent to spend £432 on clothes every 3 months is not practical.
I totally agree that we need to hold the CEO’s of these companies accountable. Many of the directors of these companies know that there is a lot of corruption in developing countries. Sometimes brought on by poverty and most times by greed. They need to ensure that when dealing with contractors and such they don’t just accept a piece of paper. Go with your own engineers. Make sure that you care about your foreign workers in the same manner you would care about the workers in your country. Stop looking only at the bottom line.
Some of the comments on these articles are that – we should stop buying clothes that are manufactured in these developing countries. For one thing, the price/label of a piece of clothing is not at all indicative of the working conditions of its manufacturer. In Prato, Italy, Chinese immigrants were found to be working in garment factories for as little as €2 an hour. Also, killing the manufacturing trade in developing countries is not going to help. These workers need the money to survive. Most developing countries do not have a benefit or government aid system. If they don’t work they don’t eat simple. Taking people on an ethical guilt trip doesn’t help. We would all love to by that ethical t-shirt for £21 but sadly not everyone can. My desire to spend my money wisely is definitely not the problem. Greed is.