Today marks week one of the “Be Green Challenge.” The rules outlining this compact challenge boil down to one essential thing: Do not by (new) products! This is of course excludes certain products such as medicines, hygiene products, or recreational services. If I do desire to buy a product, then I must borrow or buy used.
I am looking forward to this this challenge since all throughout my life I have been buying a majority of things used at various thrift and second hand stores. When I was a little girl, my family would shop at Salvation Army and Goodwill because we did not have the luxury to afford new things. Therefore, I do not anticipate this challenge to drastically change my lifestyle.
Palmer’s article discusses just how difficult it is to know where products are made and the poor work conditions of those employed by manufacturing factories. He argues that “if Americans respond to even some of these concerns, they could enjoy their shopping and improve the conditions that millions of people around the world encounter in their daily lives” (8). In the article, various steps are proposed to help consumers to become more conscious of items purchased including paying attention to where things are made or actively choosing not to purchase from countries tied with political regimes or has a history of inhuman and exploitative labor conditions. Participating in the “Be Green Challenge” is another way to be proactive and to not feed directly into a system that often violates human rights.
Just participating in an anti-consumerism movement is not enough. Complacency is not a solution against human rights violations. Through purchasing power, consumers can place pressure on clothing and garment industry and corporations to enforce worker safety reform. An article by the NY Times outlines different approaches from Top –Down to Bottom-Up for addressing this issue. However true reform cannot be achieved until there is more of a standard for consumer and corporate social responsibility.
Inside Source: Holstein, William J., et al. "Santa's sweatshop." US News & World Report 50 (1996).
Outside Source: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/12/whos-responsibile-for-worker-safety-abroad/a-bottom-up-top-down-approach-in-worker-safety-reform