In this week’s reading of “Santa’s Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, It’s Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift – and Under What Conditions”, it explains the production side of the products sold in the US. They argue that American consumers do not “possess enough information to make informed buying decisions”. Their model was the Nike brand. Nike shoes are created from the global economy which consists of minimum wage workers from countries with low standard of living. Basically the process of the raw materials to the sale of a certain product is a long and complicated process. Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman, and Ito suggest the following steps to encourage smart spending:
1) Look to see where things are made.
2) Exercise discretion regarding certain countries.
3) Don’t assume that a made-in-the-USA label means a product is necessarily made under ideal conditions.
4) Look for union label, but don’t draw too many conclusions from it.
5) Check the U.S. Department of Labor’s Website.
6) Ask manufacturers directly, either by letter, telephone hot line of Internet about their code of conduct for their own plants as well as those of subcontractors.
7) Reward manufacturers and retailers you trust.
8) Ask your favorite consumer group to expand ratings of products beyond safety, quality, and price to include workplace conditions.
Out of all of these recommendations, I believe (5), (7), and (8) are the easiest to do. (5) because everyone has the accessibility to the internet either by way of computer or smart phone. Either do it on the spot when you are buying on impulse or do your research beforehand to see where to shop. (7) because you should keep investing into a brand/label if you know they are a good one. (8) because word of mouth is important in this day and age and almost everyone looks at ratings and reviews for products.
With the holidays coming up, I find it difficult to stray way from advertisements and the holiday spirit of spending. Maybe I will be too focused with the holiday spirit and won’t be able to keep up with the recommendations above. In “Consumers Are Shopping Smarter This Holiday Season”, Zaraya predicts a decrease in consumer confidence which means that there is uncertainty with holiday spending because it is at an all-time low. There are more people predicting to spend less on gifts this year. So does this say something about the economy or is this an increase in smarter consumers? Who knows, but the result means that large companies are losing out and less people are investing money into commodities that are created under harsh conditions.
Update: The first week of the Be Green Challenge have past and I am struggling so much to prevent myself from going shopping for clothes. I thought about shopping for every day of the Be Green Challenge that have past, but I have prevented myself because I was too sick to leave the house. The Veteran’s Day sales at Macy’s and other big department stores have only enhanced my temptations to empty my wallet. The following two weeks will be the death of me because black Friday and Thanksgiving Day weekend is creeping closer and closer.
Holstein, William J., Brian Palmer, Shahid Ur-Rehman, and Timothy M. Ito. "Santa’s Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, It’s Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift – and Under What Conditions." U.S. News & World Report 121.24 (1996): n. pag. Print.
Zaraya, Denise. "Consumers Are Shopping Smarter This Holiday Season." ClickZ. ClickZ, 10 Sept. 2012. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.