Sweatshops

A singlet for $3.99 - for that price it must have been made in a sweatshop right?

A singlet for $3.99 – for that price it must have been made in a sweatshop right?

Today I bought a singlet for $3.99. Yes, you heard right $3.99. I didn’t even try it on, I asked the sales assistant for my size and she went out the back and found one in a plastic sleeve, brought it back to the counter, and I promptly bought it.

It’s a bargain, I know it. But for that price it must have been made in a sweatshop somewhere in China, surely? Do I feel guilty? Yes. I actually do. But will it stop me wearing it? No. Because I’m not particularly rich by most Western standards and I need to save my money.

So this seems to be the modern day dilemma, and I’m not exactly sure how to solve it. Do you?

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4 Comments

Filed under Bargain, Budget, Clothing, Frugal, Saving money, shopping

4 responses to “Sweatshops

  1. It does trouble me, but my main problem is that you can’t be sure that by paying more, you get a non-sweatshop item. I just try to do my best to make sure every item of clothing gets wore and appreciated.

  2. There’s no perfect answer, but I try to check the country that it was made in. No matter how broke I am, I won’t buy from India– a heft portion of their garment industry relies on child slave labor wherein the children do not survive to adulthood. China may occasionally have issues with prison labor pop up, but it’s actually the best place I’ve found out of the countries who manufacture lots of cheap textiles. I highly recommend checking Factory Girls out of the library– a lot of Chinese factory workers are a lot better treated than we in the west treated our own factory workers a century and a half ago. Chinese factory girls also often get the chance to seek out educational opportunities, and see promotions/advancement/social mobility as entirely possible. They’re usually out to either a) become management or b) save up enough to buy a business in their home village.

    By contrast, Planet of Slums convinced me never to buy Indian textiles or glassware again. If you’re particularly concerned about the state of labor in the world, then the one book that you need to read– above all others– is Disposable People. The author turned his report on the state of global slavery to the UN into a book anyone can read, digest, and use to change their purchasing habits. If you were within the US, I’d also recommend Reefer Madness for its extensive chapter on labor (some of it quite non-consenting) in California strawberry farms.

    Bottom line– in this economy, you probably won’t be able to eliminate slavery from your purchases entirely. You can minimize the chance that the item you’ve purchased was made by forced labor, and do so without breaking the bank. If you’ve done your due diligence, you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.

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