Do sweat shops make good cheap product?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Money Saving Polls
52 replies 8.6K views
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  • DaisiesDaisies Forumite
    256 Posts

    How about a new vote? - Do you want to give your money to:

    a) subsidised american cotton growers
    b) breadline 3rd world cotton growers

    It seems rather mean to take money away from poorly paid workers just because you disagree with it ethically

    or how about:
    c) fair trade company working with 3rd world cotton growers?!

    Seriously, a lot of this problem is because the western world has got used to having loads of cheap clothes, being able to "follow fashion" and chuck things out after one season (encouraged by companies making this possible and the media going on and on about fashion). What happened to buying well-made quality clothing (more expensive but cheaper in the long-term), which a lot of the fair trade and more ethical companies provide? How much of this cheap clothing also ends up causing problems with waste and disposal?

    I would much rather buy much less clothing (and save up to buy it) and have it last for several years because it's well-made than "wasting" money on cheap clothing from the companies that use sweat-shop labour.

    Also, sweat-shop labour isn't just a, oh well they work hard and don't get paid much. These factories are often dangerous - causing lifelong health problems or even loss of life. The workers are bullied into working over-time without extra pay and often denied time off to attend things like medical appointments, or even denied loo and meal breaks. Plus children working in them aren't gaining an education whilst they're there.
  • IdiophreakIdiophreak Forumite
    12K Posts
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    I have to say, there's a bit of an attitude about that there are only two options..."have people live on the streets" or "have people work in sweatshops". Personally, I'd prefer "have people work in a decent environment for decent wages". Why do people assume that stopping buying sweatshop goods will cause people to go out of work? Our clothes still need to be made somewhere...and making them in the developing world is always going to be cheaper than making them here...
  • hazedazehazedaze Forumite
    12 Posts
    I agree with a lot of what is being said here. I do look for fair trade clothes and will always take that option if it arises, but my income is such that I often cannot afford this route. I do shop at the cheaper shops for my clothes and I have come to the idea that the more expensive shops also use sewatshops, but keep more of the money for themselves from the trade. I would rather a small amount of my money went to one company than a huge amount go to the other when the same amount will be paid to the workers overseas.
  • I think there are far more options than begging/sweatshop. These are human beings like you and me- and they deserve choices.

    I'm a big supporter of fair trade AND a money saver.

    Here's some great options as alternatives:
    http://www.nomadsclothing.com/index.html
    Nomads is a great fun clothing label- fashion and fun bits and peices and a great selection of accessories

    http://www.ptree.co.uk/
    People Tree- more expensive but extremely good quality and gorgeous items. Campaigns tirelessly for economic change- Safia Minney is an inspiration.

    http://www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/
    Traidcraft, again slightly more expensive, but beautiful.

    http://www.naturalcollection.com/
    Have fair trade clothing in two tiers- one is a more expensive but luxurious range.

    http://www.americanapparelstore.com/
    American clothing, brilliant for seperates all made in US factories, non sweatshop.

    There's loads more places- like Hug, Howies, Ganesha, Greenfibres.

    I think buying fair trade (which I do) needs a shift in attitudes to fashion. Instead of buying a whole new wardrobe each season made cheaply- which falls apart in a year or so, you can buy classic items that last for years, and top up with a few new pieces each season to keep you current.

    I think that's much more money-saving: you save on landfill, get a better product, and you help other people get out of poverty. It isn't cheaper if it's badly made and you need to replace it often.
    It's worth bearing in mind that if market forces (i.e. what we buy) demand cheap labour how long before it spreads to the whole world? It's bad enough where it is.

    Also, for anyone looking for a one stop place for coffee, tea, odds and sods
    http://!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Ethical superstore is great, and the lowest prices I've found.

    I don't think saving money means compromising on principles or forcing other people into terrible situations: it is only fashion, after all.
    And yes, I'm strapped for cash, so I only buy a few peices, but I wear them for years!

    Hope this info helps!
    Sally
  • mh1923mh1923 Forumite
    525 Posts
    If the choice was 'go to the factory or go to school', then we'd all choose school. But very often, the choice is 'go to the factory or starve' or 'go to the factory or work as a prostitute'. If greater economic opportunities existed for these people, they would take them! Third world parents don't love their children less. They want them to be educated and well off. But first of all, they want them to be fed and housed. Unfortunately, there's no 'fast track' to economic development. Money handouts will always go to the most corrupt and powerful unless there is an economic and legal infrastructure to support prosperity, and each nation has to build that, slowly, for themselves.

    Yes, it sucks. I have no doubt that if there was an effective way to fix it that would cost 10% of the GNP of the developed nations, the majority would be in favor of paying more taxes to make it happen. But it doesn't work like that.

    (In any case, the question is merely academic to me, because generally I only buy socks and knickers new--most of my wardrobe comes from charity shops.)
    Hi, I'm Mich :o
    I won a years supply of Comfort fabric softener in November 2013 - more than half remains...
    2015 survey proceeds £115.36
  • LuizLuiz Forumite
    17 Posts
    I echo comments here about people earning a living wage - which might well be less in their country than ours, but I believe we all deserve basic human rights and clearly this is not happening in all instances.

    For the time being it is better to only buy when you need to replace clothing/shoes etc, or if your needs change. Don't be sucked in by the prevailing 'buy buy buy' culture - hardly money-saving is it ?

    For those with the time, charity shops can offer up some great clothes although shoes I have to admit to buying new and not often fair trade. This year I'm planning on buying fair trade baseball shoes (all the rage this year) and I've noticed the price difference between fair trade (£35) and non (sub £10) is huge. Makes me ask questions, I don't know about you.

    I'd rather buy a 'capsule wardrobe' of good quality clothes (mostly bought in sales - don't have time to trawl charity shops) and look after them, than buy cheap trash that falls apart after a few washes. I'm sure I spend less in the long run.

    Just my pennyworth

    Luiz

    Learn from the mistakes of others - you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.
  • ricticrictic Forumite
    10 Posts
    I used to live in the Far East, Cambodia, Thailand Vietnam. There aren't a great number of jobs paying similar or higher wages to the factories. The wages from the factories feeds clothes a family. The people who complain about these places have no concept of life over there.
    A couple of years ago the BBC did an expose on a factory employing by western standards a number of young girls aged 14, due to the interference of the BBC the girl they featured was fired. Good result eh. The breadwinner for the family sacked just to keep a do gooder happy. In Cambodia the only other option for her will be prostitution cos no other factory will employ her or others like her.
    Well done, another success story, young girl saved from factory life but forced into prostitution.
  • cwep2cwep2 Forumite
    23 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    While many people express a concern over sweatshops in public unfortunately the vast majority still 'vote with their wallets' and buy based on price. It is similar to the whole high street shops versus out of town supermarkets, people want the convenience of having things locally but buy the majority of their groceries in supermarkets (and their DVD players, clothes, CDs, books etc.)

    With the best will in the world the vast majority of consumers still buy at the lowest price and while I admire the ethics of those who have the luxury to pay more for fair trade, if it comes to a choice between my children not getting a new school uniform this year or buying something from one of the supermarkets that offer suitable products almost certainly produced in a sweat shop, I will continue to get the new uniform.

    I believe in free markets, and have spent time in the far east doing voluntary work and in many cases as others have mentioned above the people employed there get wages than they could get anywhere else and the conditions are often seen as good by local standards even if we look upon them with scorn in the west. There will always be bad apples but this should not make us cut down all the apple trees.

    If I was given information from a trusted source (not a sensationalist tabloid style expose) that say supermarket x factories treated their workers fairly, and supermarket y didn't then I would consider the price difference and if it was not significant then it would influence by buying decision, but ultimately it comes down to balancing the extra price you are prepared to pay (or more often what else you would have to give up) to shop fair trade.
  • ricticrictic Forumite
    10 Posts
    I used to live in the Far East, Cambodia, Thailand Vietnam. There aren't a great number of jobs paying similar or higher wages to the factories. The wages from the factories feeds clothes a family. The people who complain about these places have no concept of life over there.
    A couple of years ago the BBC did an expose on a factory employing by western standards a number of young girls aged 14, due to the interference of the BBC the girl they featured was fired. Good result eh. The breadwinner for the family sacked just to keep a do gooder happy. In Cambodia the only other option for her will be prostitution cos no other factory will employ her or others like her.
    Well done, another success story, young girl saved from factory life but forced into prostitution.
  • Why should I tolerate people (including children) working in appalling, unsafe conditions, for an absolute pittance, to supply me with cheap clothing? All this guff about the world market, isn't it better they work in sweat shops than not at all, etc, is head-in-the-sand nonsense. Nobody, NOBODY, in this country is anywhere near as poor as eg. garment makers in Bangladesh. Cheap clothes? How about no clothes? How about we try wearing the same clothes every day until they fall off us because we can't afford to buy food, let alone a new T-shirt?

    Yeah, we're not exactly flush for cash, but I occasionally treat myself to a new top or some troos - from a charity shop. Contrary to popular belief we do not need several new outfits every week, how about that.

    And no, just boycotting sweatshop goods is not the answer - you think Primark cares I don't shop there? No, they don't even notice. But they noticed when I wrote a letter asking about their ethical policy. If we all did that, you can bet your tush they'd take notice.

    Come on, make an effort people.
    :TProud to be dealing with my debts :T
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