Author of stories for children, Scientist and Philosopher T-shirts & bags, comments on life, the universe and everything, photography. Conservationist, Environmentalist. Lives on the pale blue dot. Humanity must tread more lightly on the world
A seller of sports shirts in central Asuncion, in Plaza de la Libertad I think. What can we ask ourselves about this photo from over seven years ago? Is the seller still making his or her living from selling these shirts? Are they legal shirts or are they copies? How much were the workers who made these shirts paid? What sort of lifestyle did they or do they have? What sort of lifestyle does the seller currently have? What were the shirts made out of? Have the shirts broken down and if they were made with plastics have they become plastic pollution in the form of microplastic and nanoplastic particles now in the rivers and oceans or even residing in animals and people? One photograph can generate so many questions if we look a it closely enough. 17th February 2014.
We have a moral duty to understand the economics of our supply chains. If we wouldn’t accept the wages and living conditions of the third world workers who fill our retail outlets with goods for our over consumption then we shouldn’t expect them to either.
An exciting retail opportunity. Will it be part of the UK dream or as many of us consider it, nightmare, where first world shoppers, either ignorant or perhaps uneducated, consume third world produced goods where the labour has been exploited and the local environment severely damaged and all the while helping us break through recently 420ppm of CO2?
Like the monster’s mouth, the monster that is consuming the planet at an unsustainable rate while heavily polluting it and exploiting much of the living world including other human primates. The monster of first world consumerism.
Just don’t think too hard about the lives of the people being exploited to bring you your dreams unless you have a conscience and want to be part of system change. Some of what is on sale are environmentally damaging mass produced items but equally or more importantly economic slave wages are paid to some of the humans producing the items. In Ethiopia clothing manufacturers have found that workers will accept $7 a week so they have moved production in some cases from South East Asia where workers could be paid as much as $2-3 dollars per day. Wow. Read, research, think and acknowledge how other humans are treated to satisfy your shopping habit at the very least. Better still act and demand change.
Do you ever ask yourself how any business can offer 70% off of anything? The answer is what the human being was paid to produce whatever is being sold and that’s especially true in the clothing and fashion business. In this instance, UK shops have huge costs, premises, heating and lighting, staff, although they might not think so, council rates, financing et al so how can they do it? Quite simply for two reasons, environmentally damaging mass produced items but equally or more importantly economic slave wages of the humans producing the items. In Ethiopia clothing manufacturers have found that workers will accept $7 a week so they have moved production in some cases from South East Asia where workers could be paid as much as $2-3 dollars per day. Read, think and acknowledge how other humans are treated to satisfy your shopping habit at the very least.
A few days ago the magical monopoly money made out of thin air was valued at around $50,000, simply human madness. It’s a private party of course and only those rich enough can play. For instance the Ethiopian garment workers earning $7 a week who keep the consumerist economies afloat so that they can play the Bitcoin game will never be able to participate. If an Ethiopian could use all their weekly $7 to save for one Bitcoin it would take them over 137 years. Alternatively if 137 Ethiopian workers starved themselves and didn’t pay any bills for a year then they could buy a Bitcoin assuming that the price hadn’t changed of course or that while they saved they weren’t charged negative interest by the global banking system. There is something deeply disturbing and immoral about money and wealth and few it seem question the system especially when consuming the work of exploited third world labour.
Part of the problem of climate change, deforestation, species extinction is related to the amount we consume and currently business as usual merchants want us to continue spending and consuming. This isn’t possible on a finite planet and is morally wrong when we know of the exploitation of human labour and the environment. So how about making a list of things that you don’t buy this year, that you do without? If we all didn’t buy something it would make a big difference. I can see the problems for people. A younger me would also spend and spend again but I have become old enough to reject the advertising by what the marketing and advertising people tell me is essential for my life and happiness. So why not try and not go shopping whether it be physically when allowed to do so or on line? Make a note of items that you have decided not to buy and at the end of 2021 count up how much money you have saved. There are those that will say that these people in 3rd world countries need the work and while true they need more than economic slave wages and that needs to change too.
Western, first world countries rely on cheap and often exploited labour to fill the shops and increasingly so the internet with cheaply made throw away rubbish. Perhaps no more so than in the fast fashion industry which is always so shocked at finding exploitation in its supply chains. Shops turn over at quite a rate either for a new brand or a refit and this is where they also exploit the environment. Here we see one shop being refitted for a brand and at the end of it the wood and whatever materials are covering it will be placed into landfill or burnt causing more pollution. If workers were not being exploited and there was an actual true value put on the resources used for this “cheap” hoarding this sort of waste and wanton destruction of the environment for the business as usual model of capitalist growth would not be possible. Make 2021 the year when you shop and consume less. Our political leaders want us to consume more but we must stop if we want to have some sort of sustainable and equitable future.