Fair Trade products (photo by Andie Gilmour)
This is part of a continuing series of email letters exchanged with my Swedish friend, Absinthia. To see the whole series, start with Living a Simple Life.
Last night my husband and I were discussing the “throw-away” mindset that our culture has regarding many things that we purchase, including clothes. They are so cheap at the big box stores, that many people buy a few outfits, wear them for a season, and then get rid of them and buy more. What a waste! But I suppose it keeps millions of poor factory workers from starving.
This “buy-wear-throw” away culture… I heard a politician on the radio once defending it with “but we support the poor countries if we buy things.” But, sad to say, that is not true. The only ones we support if we buy in the big brand stores, are the western multi-millionaires that sit comfortably on their big moneybags. The poor seamstresses make less than half a dollar a day. They have to borrow money from the black market money lenders to be able to buy food and pay the rent. The poor young girls that put the iphones together, they have such bad work-situations (too long days, no rests, too stressful etc.), that the factory owners have had to block the doors out to the roofs to stop them from commiting suicide.
I look for this kind of information in the newspapers. It never hits the headlines, but one finds it if one looks for it. And I do, because I refuse to live a good life on the back of my brother, and I refuse to eat from my sister’s plate.
Some years ago, more than ten years ago now I guess, a young boy child finally was able to run away from the debt slavery that his parents had sold him into. He started fighting the money lenders that organize this kind of thing, and he started fighting against the system that allows child labour. I had the chance to hear him speak on these issues, and he said, “The only way to end this, is to not support them in any way. It is so easy. Just don´t support them. Don´t send your money in their direction.” He was so dangerous for the factory owners, that he was murdered after just a few years.
So, I don´t give them my money. I don´t buy any product made with child labour, or under other kinds of unfair conditions. I make the things I need myself, or I get it from a local producer (the local seamstress, the local fire wood seller, etc.), or from someone with a “clear” source, such as Fair Trade, from whom I buy cocoa and vanilla.
By not letting people fare ill, at the same time I’m not letting the earth fare ill. By not letting greedy people enslave others, I don´t support the polluting transports. So Fair Trade is both fair for people and for the planet’s eco-system. All of us must stick together, earth and people are one. It is very easy, if one lets it be easy :-)
The conversation is continued here:
Absinthia Returns, Part 3
Absinthia Returns, Part 3