Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Bare Necessities

"In an era when the economy is necessarily a global one, it is impossible for consumers to avoid products made under less than ideal conditions." Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman, and Ito's "Santa's Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, It's Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift--and Under What Conditions," gives various examples of companies ranging from Disney to Mattel, whose products are made by workers in sub-par conditions. Even with the push for better working conditions for workers overseas, I think first it is better to understand the companies from whom we buy our clothing and products. I was impressed by the mini-movement Levi's had started by narrowing down the number of factories in certain areas to better understand the local condition, and also that they do not do business with countries that do not have good human-rights records.

American Apparel is a brand well known for its quality products made in the great US of A. In addition to made products under better working conditions, they also take political stances on things such as gay rights and immigration. They're workers are given affordable health care, free on-site massages, and many other perks outlined on this page. On this page, you can watch their process of dying garments some crazy colors. From the pictures and the workers page, it is easy to see that these workers are taken care of. Due to the conditions of their workers and their ethics, AA's clothing usually tends to be on the more expensive side of things, especially when you think of the pieces they sell: basics. Why am I going to by a $14 boxer brief, when I could go to Target and get three packs of underwear for that price? Well, it seems that my Hanes underwear from Target was made in Honduras.

In the compact challenge, we're challenged to not buy new things except, the basics: undergarments, socks, etc. Instead of buying cheaply made pieces from Target, Wal-Mart, etc., whose products come from outsourced factories with workers who we really have no guarantee of knowing how their treated (unless of course you do the research) and from really cheap materials, why not just buy quality goods? I like to think of myself as a pretty good consumer, not the best, but a good one. I don't mind spending money on things if I know that they are of good quality because then I see them as investments. Underwear? Definitely, a good investment. AA offers a range of basics from hoodies to jeans to white tee shirts, that are great quality that will last more than a few washing cycles. You can even one up yourself by buying used AA goods on eBay, but keep to hoodies and such, not used underwear. By investing in good quality products, you spend less money on buying cheaper products every so often. Thus reducing waste and by not supporting bad working conditions. Also, by buying American, we support our economy, which we all know needs helping!

One of my only Latin phrases: "Semper ubi sub ubi = Always wear underwear." But, wear greatly made underwear.

Raphael Sarmiento
Blog #2

Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman, and Ito. "Santa's Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, It's Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift--and Under What Conditions"
American Apparel

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