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Thread summary:

Ethical shopping, fair-trade products, buying from environmentally responsible companies, companies with good human rights track records, socially responsible consumers

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Old 05-15-2007, 03:40 PM
 
Location: Mill Valley, California
275 posts, read 397,065 times
Reputation: 243

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooseketeer View Post
I totally agree about consuming a lot less and I haven't bought a new CD or DVD in years ( ebay is great) and we are really quite terrible consumers as I hate shopping and will only buy stuff when I actually need it. Most of my furniture is second hand or old. ( still very nice though).
I am the same way. I got into reupholstering furniture (as a great hobby) in my desires to stretch out the life span of a piece of furniture. Older couches often have far superior under structures -- like oak framing rather than particle board -- and with new cloth and a bit of padding an ugly junk couch from the 40's or 50's (everyone has one in their grandma's basement) can become not only a great custom upholstered couch for you, it often will last another fifty years!

Quote:
Regarding sweatshops though , even though it provide crucial jobs for the poorest people in the third world, I think you will find that these workers do mind the conditions they work in as can be noticed by the great increase in labour rights protests and local third world organisations trying to fight for decent wages and work conditions. There is a huge wave of self empowerment going on now from India to South America and via China . Small growers and factory workers are organising themselves around the world in great political movements and unions and good on them !!
We in the Western World should no be allowed to exploit human beings the way we do and I hope that Fairtrade products will one day become the norm rather than a middle-class exception. If you were to triple wages in third world factories and agricultural areas, we as consumers would barely notice the cost difference. Of course the other solution would be for multinational corporations to take a slight cut in profits ! Yes I know hardly likely but it could be done without anyone having to suffer.
I agree 100% with you here, but labor laws are a local issue for local people to fight through with their local governments. I love when rich Western governments help with organizing labor efforts in other countries (which we do, but not nearly enough) and I do press for better support through these efforts thorugh other means other than through how I shop.

The question I have, other than "fair trade" do we really have any other way to "shop ethically" in regards to helping international labor issues? I don't think there are any. Prior to fair-trade, there was no "shoppers" solution to this one problem. We could try to figure out which companies were most abusive overseas -- but that lead to corporate sabotage and a great deal of propaganda, and corporate mislabelling and general deception on where their products are actually manufactured. Today it is very likely that your "made in America" product had many of its parts and materials manufactured or refined in overseas "sweat shop" factories, mills, textile plants, and forges. Secondly, we could boycott over seas made goods, but that merely has a negative effect by causing plants to close or move which does nothing to help exploited people in to struggle for labor rights. Shopping ethically, then, for me, is about other things -- like shopping less in general, buying products made from sustainable materials, etc.

Quote:
Our wealth and comfort has been built on the suffering of others for far too long and we do need to take responsibility for our actions and realise that what we are doing is obscenely selfish and grossly damaging to us all.
Here Here! But we all know this. In short, this is not something the average person can simply decide to help with by shopping more ethically. These are issues bound and controlled by large geo-political powers -- both multinational corporations and national governments -- and much of the change you call for, if it is to happen at all, will be waged between these forces and the populations that are exploited for our benefits.

Quote:
We need to vote and with our wallets and demand changes from the way business is run.
Unfortunately, we can't simply stop buying everything in protest. If the exploiting manufacturers have their profits hurt, the laborers they employ will be the first to feel our "voting with our wallets." I love your rhetoric, but there comes a time when we all need to take our seats and think of some solutions, rather than simply restating what the problem is! I agree, fair trade -- great idea! What else do we have?
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Old 05-15-2007, 05:04 PM
 
Location: long island,new york
536 posts, read 1,105,397 times
Reputation: 623
i just try to buy american when i can, i have never owned a rice rocket
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Old 05-15-2007, 05:27 PM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,036 posts, read 22,223,956 times
Reputation: 19946
Quote:
Originally Posted by HopOnPop View Post
I am the same way. I got into reupholstering furniture (as a great hobby) in my desires to stretch out the life span of a piece of furniture. Older couches often have far superior under structures -- like oak framing rather than particle board -- and with new cloth and a bit of padding an ugly junk couch from the 40's or 50's (everyone has one in their grandma's basement) can become not only a great custom upholstered couch for you, it often will last another fifty years!

I agree 100% with you here, but labor laws are a local issue for local people to fight through with their local governments. I love when rich Western governments help with organizing labor efforts in other countries (which we do, but not nearly enough) and I do press for better support through these efforts thorugh other means other than through how I shop.

The question I have, other than "fair trade" do we really have any other way to "shop ethically" in regards to helping international labor issues? I don't think there are any. Prior to fair-trade, there was no "shoppers" solution to this one problem. We could try to figure out which companies were most abusive overseas -- but that lead to corporate sabotage and a great deal of propaganda, and corporate mislabelling and general deception on where their products are actually manufactured. Today it is very likely that your "made in America" product had many of its parts and materials manufactured or refined in overseas "sweat shop" factories, mills, textile plants, and forges. Secondly, we could boycott over seas made goods, but that merely has a negative effect by causing plants to close or move which does nothing to help exploited people in to struggle for labor rights. Shopping ethically, then, for me, is about other things -- like shopping less in general, buying products made from sustainable materials, etc.

Here Here! But we all know this. In short, this is not something the average person can simply decide to help with by shopping more ethically. These are issues bound and controlled by large geo-political powers -- both multinational corporations and national governments -- and much of the change you call for, if it is to happen at all, will be waged between these forces and the populations that are exploited for our benefits.

Unfortunately, we can't simply stop buying everything in protest. If the exploiting manufacturers have their profits hurt, the laborers they employ will be the first to feel our "voting with our wallets." I love your rhetoric, but there comes a time when we all need to take our seats and think of some solutions, rather than simply restating what the problem is! I agree, fair trade -- great idea! What else do we have?

You can lobby politicians, sign petitions and boycott certain goods. At the end of the day this kind of thing does work, for example if you see how much Greenpeace , Amnesty International and Survival have achieved regarding environmental and human rights issues. I know this kind of customer action takes a while but companies hate losing business and will eventually be forced to listen.
I know in the UK for example that this kind of consumer led approach has meant that certain giant shops have now had to vastly improve workers conditions and wages in the third world and that is due to boycotts, picketing, and demanding that your elected representative raise the issue in Parliament ( in my case) . I think it is quite defeatist to think that we have no power. It does require people to care and get involved and yes it is an effort but hopefully a worthwhile one.
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Old 05-15-2007, 06:18 PM
jco
 
Location: Austin
2,120 posts, read 5,994,224 times
Reputation: 1412
We try very hard to buy products that aren't made in China. You know what we've found? They're better quality and they last longer!
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Old 05-15-2007, 07:55 PM
 
18,664 posts, read 24,065,842 times
Reputation: 35313
i only eat local, fresh organic venison.

i try not to patronize wallyworld...hundreds of thousands of american made manufacturing jobs have been lost to slave labor jobs.
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Old 05-16-2007, 12:42 AM
 
Location: Mill Valley, California
275 posts, read 397,065 times
Reputation: 243
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooseketeer View Post
You can lobby politicians, sign petitions and boycott certain goods. At the end of the day this kind of thing does work, for example if you see how much Greenpeace , Amnesty International and Survival have achieved regarding environmental and human rights issues. I know this kind of customer action takes a while but companies hate losing business and will eventually be forced to listen.
I know in the UK for example that this kind of consumer led approach has meant that certain giant shops have now had to vastly improve workers conditions and wages in the third world and that is due to boycotts, picketing, and demanding that your elected representative raise the issue in Parliament ( in my case) . I think it is quite defeatist to think that we have no power. It does require people to care and get involved and yes it is an effort but hopefully a worthwhile one.
We obviously both have are hearts in the same place. I agree that there is plenty we can do to help people around the world, but that is not the topic of your OP. I am sorry you have the impression that I was being defeatist, but I think you arbitrarily broadened out your side of the discussion to talk about a much larger topic than I am. You are not respecting the constraints of this discussion that you originally set in your OP.

You started this thread with the idea of "shopping ethically" in mind. I further engaged you on the much more narrow topic of how can shopping ethically, specifically, help exploited foreign workers better their conditions. That is the only arena to which my posts are referring. I agree signing petitions, lobbying politicians and providing donations to international organizations can be very effective tools for helping overseas workers, but, this is OT and not what my comments were addressing.

I think if you re-read my posts, you will notice that I was merely pointing out that "shopping ethically", while effective for helping out other ethical movements (such as helping the environment), it is not that effective of a tool for helping foreign workers improve their working conditions. Other than fair trade products, I am not sure there is any other tools in the box that "shopping ethically" can do for helping foreign workers.

You mentioned boycotting -- which I am taking to mean boycotting buying certain brands or products or materials -- but how can that help overseas workers? There is also the issues of propaganda and misinformation that one falls prey to when trying to target through boycotting. How do you effectively work around these issues as a consumer/shopper?

Please try to stick to your own OP theme. It is not an effective discussion technique to keep changing the constraints of the discussion. We are simply talking about "ethical shopping" here, and, in my particular case, I am merely referring to how "ethical shopping" can help exploited foreign workers trying to improve their conditions.
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Old 05-16-2007, 06:00 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,036 posts, read 22,223,956 times
Reputation: 19946
I did not realise there were some constraints to any discussion. I had assumed that a thread was like a discussion and therefore could grow and evolve ( other threads seem to).
Obviously I did not understand the rules of the game.Apologies but I am rather new at Forum posting.
To answer your question though, by shopping ethically you demonstrate their is a viable economic market for ethical products and that as a consumer you prefer goods not produced by slave labour. This demonstrates to companies your preferences and trickles down to better working conditions for workers.
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Old 05-16-2007, 06:06 AM
 
Location: Arlington, VA/Washington, DC
24,158 posts, read 34,100,507 times
Reputation: 33284
i buy items from whoever has them cheapest. be it mom n pop or wal-mart.
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Old 05-16-2007, 06:05 PM
 
Location: Mill Valley, California
275 posts, read 397,065 times
Reputation: 243
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooseketeer View Post
I did not realise there were some constraints to any discussion. I had assumed that a thread was like a discussion and therefore could grow and evolve ( other threads seem to).
Obviously I did not understand the rules of the game.Apologies but I am rather new at Forum posting.
To answer your question though, by shopping ethically you demonstrate their is a viable economic market for ethical products and that as a consumer you prefer goods not produced by slave labour. This demonstrates to companies your preferences and trickles down to better working conditions for workers.
Before I say something I really regret, I have to surrender now !
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Old 05-16-2007, 08:59 PM
 
5,019 posts, read 12,848,114 times
Reputation: 6987
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooseketeer View Post
For a few years now, my partner and I have been trying very hard to be far more "ethically" minded when shopping. We try to buy "fairtrade" products when possible , have boycotted many companies because of their appalling human rights standards and we try to keep ourselves informed as to the impact of our consuming. Does anyone else out there believe as I do that as customers we have a lot of power and that we should try wherever possible not buy from companies with bad track records in human rights( at home or abroad),and with terrible environmental credentials ?
It is very hard to live a modern life and be ethical but I believe more and more people want to know where their goods come from and who has produced them , and under which working conditions.
Back to the original topic....

YES!

We, as consumers, have more choices and infromation than ever before.

First: BUY LESS. REduce, REuse, REcycle.

Then, shop LOCally. Local merchants, local products.

Finally, when choosing products produced overseas, shop ethically (for me, this means avoiding China at all costs).
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