The horrifying Bangladesh factory fire that killed over 500 people weighs heavily in my thoughts.
Following the various media articles in the days after the tragedy has raised more questions than answers for me. We are all consumers, and as such, it seems to me that we all play a direct role in one way or another.
One angle the news coverage focuses on is corporations continuing production in Bangladesh with a view to raising standards for factory workers. Another angle focuses on companies withdrawing completely from factory production in Bangladesh. Reviewing the arguments presented in favour of either approach leaves me more confused than ever. It seems to me that both paths court an unsavoury shadow side. Which also gets me thinking with great concern about the companies involved that have said nothing at all.
The whole thing is a complicated and emotional topic, and clearly I’m no expert. All I know for certain is that I don’t want anyone to suffer or die making clothes for me to buy cheap or otherwise.
I felt somewhat heartened to notice a few solution based commentaries appearing here and there in Canadian media with the intent of instructing readers how to become “ethical” consumers. Which sounds all well and good on paper, but I found myself wondering how “ethical consumerism” can possibly be achieved when the term is already a conflict in and of itself. Avoiding the lowest price tags can by no means guarantee that a product is not sweat-shop derived. Reading further, I found the Canadian press machine essentially promoting the purchase of local-centric Canadian made products as a form of direct consumer action. Then, along that very “buy local” line of thinking, I encountered an opinion piece that absolutely floored me. Why?
Said article recommended purchasing from Canadian manufacturers such as Stanfields underwear and …wait for it … Canada Goose jackets. (!!!!!!)
Hold up. REALLY?????
I went into rewind mode on that one a few times to make sure I hadn’t misread it. Yep. That’s right folks. Canada Goose and ETHICAL were actually uttered in the same sentence.
My head is still exploding with disbelief. The disconnect here is beyond epic. What can possibly be ethical, or compassionate, or decent or moral about this: Deconstructing Canada Goose
Perhaps there is no one absolutely right answer to ensuring we are not directly supporting factory sweatshop conditions with our purchases. It is true that we can always make better choices and inform ourselves as much as possible based on the information available. But a discussion of ethics centred around the idea of exchanging one killing field for another? This makes absolutely no reasonable sense to me. How could it?
Ignorance is most assuredly not bliss.