Part 1: I support sweatshops (and you probably do, too)

NOTE: I write all of this to challenge (myself, you), to confess, to share, to grapple with. But not to judge. So please hear that before reading!


Nearly two years ago, I posted on fair trade.

I explored this issue. I researched, I discussed, I asked myself what can I do? What am I willing to sacrifice?

And in two years, some things have changed. When my running shoes (okay, FINE, more like "walking when I'm feeling really motivated" shoes) wore out, I chose to not replace them with my usual standby, the frequent (and current) sweat-shop supporter, Nike, and instead chose the ethically-touted New Balance. And life went on.

Also, I stopped supporting Wal-Mart. I love to save money--seriously luh-HUV it, people--but to me, I could not in good conscience continue to support a company that is repeatedly (and currently*) in the news as human rights violators. Their violations are so huge, in fact, that the International Labor Rights Forum lists ending Wal-Mart Sweatshops as one of their three primary action points in creating a sweatfree world.

This decision hurt a little more than boycotting Nike, since it had an effect on the pocketbook and, for awhile, at least, on my time (I lived just minutes from a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market and would have to drive further to get groceries anywhere else). And I'll be honest, I have shopped there in the last two years, so it hasn't been a clean break, but I would say that in total, I have been there just a handful of times in two years, which is a big change from my previous shopping habits. (Also, I have since moved and Wal-Mart is no longer a convenient option, therefore, it really isn't much of a sacrifice outside of getting less for my dollar.) And life went on.

I don't tell you these things so you think I'm awesome.

--Okay, maybe a little bit. I mean, it does feel pretty amazing to say whoa, yeah, I can actually cut companies out of my life and still live to tell about it! Because sometimes it really doesn't seem like that is possible anymore, you know? And though I'm still quite tangled in the corporate web we've weaved, it's like, I don't know, I can at least wiggle a pinkie toe now. So, that's something.

But more than that, I've just felt like I've let life go on a little too much lately and have stopped challenging myself to face my own personal responsibility in this world. Specifically in the power of my dollar.

So, again, I have to ask myself,

What am I willing to sacrifice? 

To be continued. Thanks for reading.  (Part 2 is now posted here.)

*please note that the 2010 publication is dated November 2009. I was unable to find a more current list. It seems the 2011 list has not been released yet so this really is the most current information that was readily available. I would welcome a more current list if anyone finds one!


Kelsie said...

funny that you should post this because just this weekend i was getting mad at my parents for wanting to switch our cell phone plan to the plan that walmart offers!
they're reasoning: it will save us money.

i then ranted about "at what cost though?" and all that jazz. but I think they just thought i was some sort of new-age hippie ha

Sara said...

Kels--Soooo are you calling me a new age hippie? haha jk. Funny timing. I need to save money on my cell phone bill as well--Adam about died when he saw how much I pay a month!!!