Friday, January 25, 2013

Death of a Garment Worker

Recently designer Sujeet Sennik wrote an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail newspaper in which he confessed complicity in the deaths of garment workers in a factory fire in Bangladesh. In the article he says that he lit the fire and that he is guilty of murder.

It is a very dramatic attempt at connecting our desire for cheap fashion items and consumer goods with the pathetic and dangerous conditions in which many of those who prduce them labour. He was not physically present when this fire took place, and he is not an arsonist. Sennik does speak from experience. He was actually in an Asian garment factory when a fire broke out. And as a designer he knows the pressure of producing clothing that can be sold at competitive prices in a market where people can afford more.

I have to confess that while I say I believe in justice for all, I don't check the labels of my clothing to see where it is produced. I think my biggest sin is that the availibility of cheap goods means that I buy more whether I need it or not. I could buy less and choose companies which pay workers a fair wage and create reasonable working environments. Maybe the labourers who produce my stuff are treated fairly, but I honestly don't know.

Sennik may overstate the case, but I appreciated getting the jolt to make me think about simplicity, and fairness and justice. Isn't that the call to Christians?

Do you take the time to discover the source of the stuff you are buying? What about the article? Too much guilt or a wake-up call?


roger said...

I definitely check where my produce comes from and as much as possible will buy goods grown in Canada.

However, I rarely check clothing because I just assume it is made in Taiwan, China, India or Bangladesh...or in that neck of the woods. It's rare to see any of it made in Canada, but if it were, I would probably pay a bit more.

Sarah said...

I'm reading a book right now called "The price of a bargain". It is interesting, albeit a bit boring at times, but does highlight some interesting details. Marketing is a huge industry, and really, how can we not be lemmings to it at some point in our lives. It is a tough balance in life, and we must try to do what we can.

We, as a family, try to buy local foods when the season permits, but to clothe 3 children...yes I will look for sales, not labels. However, we generally still can get away with buying used clothes for the kids.

I will admit, my entire outlook on many of these issues is changing rapidly since sponsoring a child in Malawi. Very eye opening.

(oh and re:twitter, and you hardly looked like a zombie!)

IanD said...

I totally agree with Roger: food yes, clothes .... doesn't ever cross my mind.

Stacey said...

I think this came up before when we discussed how to be more environmentally conscious.. but sometimes it is too expensive to be good.

Deborah Laforet said...

I rarely check labels, but I do think about the price of clothes and why they are so cheap. My sister is learning how to sew her own clothes and I am learning how to knit, but it amazes me how making your own can be so much more expensive than shopping at Old Navy.

I do own a lot of used clothes, either from friends and family, or from Value Village. I'm still wearing the clothes made in places like Bangladesh, but I didn't buy them. It makes me feel a little bit better.