Monday, 30 June 2014

Ignore the past, doomed to repeat it...

The heavy costs of cheap clothing: Bangladesh
A story in the NYT brought home an important point that we cannot forget while we continue to consume freely: there are much more costly implications involved in buying that sale item than the runway would suggest. I'm not writing this to induce feelings of guilt when it comes to consumption in wealthy nations. Guilt doesn't promote change, and if it does it's for the wrong reasons.  If we consider the current levels of environmental and human disaster occurring in the manufacturing centres of the Global South to bear equivalence to the industrial revolutions' human rights travesties, then we have a problem. If we justify our current methods of production, consumption and environmental destruction by claiming that it is a part of growth, a part of a nations' way of becoming developed we are committing a fundamental crime: we are blatantly ignoring the past. Our short-sighted society can hardly see itself a week or year from now into the future, but to ignore what has already happened, and what we know the solution to, is ignorance in its most pure form. Whereas consumer habits are unlikely to change anytime in the near future at the risk of an impending economic meltdown caused by not growing and consuming and wasting, the change should be coming straight from the source. The big players in the field need to be criminally held responsible for not upholding the rights and laws that are in place, because if they're not being upheld by them, they won't be by anyone.
Source: Khaled Hasan, NYT
There is nothing new when it comes to organizations' being very easy to pat themselves on the back for a 'sustainable' plan being implemented, but very little being accomplished at the structural level. Most CSR policies don't extend out of the country of main consumer bases, and plenty of organizations don't know how, where, or by whom their products are being created. A very sobering investigation by the Guardian revealed the horrific conditions that slaves are held to in the Thai fisheries industry shows how little companies know about their product chains.

The argument is that by upholding workers' and environmental laws the cost of good will increase, hence decrease consumption and hurt the economy. The idea that these mega-corporations can't absorb the necessary costs to make their operations legal is ridiculous and nauseating.  So don't feel guilty when you buy that shirt you don't need, just don't buy it in the first place.The right for clean water and respectable living conditions cannot be determined by a companies' unwillingness to comply TO A LAW. When state's don't have the will or the power to implement international labour laws or allow for the effective unions to be formed it is in my opinion the burden of those who are most exploiting the workers to step in: and these are the companies working there.While international carbon footprinting and waste standards are being developed and used by large organizations effectively would it be an effective next step to begin exploring how a 'human rights standard' or 'workers rights standard' could be built? for the private sector, a private company would be best at creating and monitoring this standard. Leave some thoughts below about what things you think this should include, and who you think should be the one's monitoring and giving this standard.

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