Let’s be real--we all love the feeling of finding an insane bargain. It’s almost a rush to see a totally cute bag for only $5 or a perfect new pair of summer sandals for just $3.99!
But let’s actually think about this for a second. Have you ever wondered how these finds can possibly be so cheap? I mean, how is it even possible for someone to have grown and harvested cotton, transported that cotton to be made into a bag and then transported that bag to a retailer to STILL make a profit? A PROFIT from a $5 bag…!
When you look at it this way, the answer is painfully obvious. Those cheap clothes, shoes, etc. that we’re so psyched to have found were made by exploited workers in developing countries, earning such low wages that it’s possible to still make a profit when that cheap bag finally arrives to a store. Beyond the scarily low pay, these workers are forced to work insanely long hours, often in extremely dangerous, even life-threatening conditions.
We may demand better treatment and higher minimum wages for workers in our countries, but when the label reads, “Made in Bangladesh” or “Made in Vietnam”, we somehow convince ourselves that it’s so far away and just out of our control. I mean, how would me not buying those $3.99 sandals really make any difference for those workers in Bangladesh...right?
Wrong. Sweatshops exist because those horrible working conditions and that unfair treatment is so hidden from us when we walk into those clean, polished stores we shop at that we forget. Out of sight, out of mind… But if the horrible realities of sweatshop production were visible to us consumers when we went to purchase those cheap finds, it would be harder to hand over our credit cards. I mean, that $5 bag can’t possibly be worth VISIBLE worker abuse.
Luckily, even though these problems remain hidden from us on a day-to-day basis, there is hope. Many people and organizations around the developing world are finally standing up--rejecting the unfairness of traditional trade and demanding better treatment for those far away workers. The solution: FAIR TRADE. Fair trade practices means giving producers fair, transparent and respectful deals, rather than profiting off of their desperation to survive.
It means paying farmers and producers enough money to support their families in the short term AND guaranteeing that they are working under long-term contracts with enough security to invest into their businesses and communities. The treatment of these workers follows international labor law standards, enabling them to join labor unions and bargain collectively to improve their working conditions and lives.
At KitePride, our Tel-Aviv-based social enterprise, we are committed to only engaging in fair trade practices. We are changing the status-quo of manufacturing with our system of production. All of our workers receive living wages, work normal hours (following international labor law standards) and under safe working conditions. Volunteers cook healthy and delicious meals for all of our workers to enjoy together, and we are committed to establishing a supportive and cooperative environment.
It’s time to stop taking advantage of workers in developing countries because those cheap clothes, shoes, etc. simply aren’t WORTH their suffering. Join us in only engaging in FAIR TRADE practices! It’s worth it.
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”
- William Wilberforce