When I had to start this assignment I had my doubts about whether or not I would succeed. I used to be a very spontaneous buyer couple years back but now I try and hold back and not give into instant gratification. It is not very hard since we and in the middle of a school year so my opportunities to go shopping are close to zero but what always gets me is online shopping. I am already pretty good and avoiding my usual online shops so I'll just have to keep it up but at least I have an even better reason to do so.
The hardest thing to keep myself from buying are shoes. I am what you might call a sneaker head (barely, in my opinion) but I had a bias towards Adidas, a brand loyalty if you will. I already knew about Nike's exploitation in the past but even before that I just never liked them or wanted to support them. In class we watched a documentary, directed by Almudena Carracedo, entitled "Made in L.A." that showed the hardships of sweatshop workers in a factory that produced clothes for Forever 21. The factory was located in L.A. so the workers were able to get their message out of the exploitation they faced as factory workers. In our reading, "Santa’s Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, it’s Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift—and Under What Conditions." we read about many more companies that underwent much scrutiny for their exploitation of labor, like GAP and Guess. Many other companies I never knew (but in the back of my mind probably assumed) exploited their workers just to make more profit. All this was a little shocking so I decided to look into my bias brand (against my better judgement) to see if they had a dark past as well.
Adidas was the official sportswear of the London 2012 Olympics and because of this they were being watched much more than usual. This led to the media discovering that Adidas was exploiting their workers in nine Indonesian factories that were contracted to make the Olympic shoes. They were being paid much less than a living wage, around 5,000 rupiah (less than 50 cents) an hour. Adidas worked on giving the sweatshop workers better pay but it isn't all Adidas' fault. The factories producing their shoes won their contracts by being the lowest bidder and Adidas does not care how the costs get so low they just accept it and rake in more profit. Adidas, and every other company, should be aware of this but they aren't because it doesn't directly affect them.
Finding this out was a little saddening but it probably won't affect my views towards Adidas. I just won't buy their shoes for at least the next four weeks. I do believe there should be more effort in overseeing sweatshops but it is a hard issue to bring up because almost everything now is outsourced making it harder to find out about any exploitation.
Inside source: 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.” Reader.
Outside source: "Adidas: Olympic worker exploitation must stop" <http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/news/item/1042-adidas-olympic-worker-exploitation-must-stop>