Tragedy in Bangladesh

Sandy84 - posted on 04/25/2013 ( 19 moms have responded )

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Hi Guys,

I don't know if you have heard about what horrible things happen in garment factories overseas!? Only because we (The Western World) demand cheap clothing people in these countries have to suffer and die!

Yesterday another garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh and big apparel companies from Europe and the U.S. just let it happen...

Here's an article by the Wall Street Journal about the topic: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424...

I am a little depressed because I want to help, but I feel like the fact that I for example try to buy organic clothing produced under fair labor pratices doesn't change anything as long as nobody else does something similar.

What do you guys think? How can I make other people understand how severe the situation is? How do you guys try to contribute something valuable?

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Sandy84 - posted on 05/09/2013

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@ Kelly: Thanks so much for all this input! Stylewithheart.com really seems to be an awesome resource... A couple of weeks ago I started shopping at kinderstuff.us. I'm glad there are people like you who not only care about themselves, but also about others and really make a difference.

@Carol: Thank you for your comment. However, I have to disagree with what you are saying. I understand that it is not solely the Western World's fault. There are governments, factory owners, etc. Furthermore, it is true that our society had to go through something similar in the past. Nevertheless, I absolutely cannot understand how those two points make you believe that the consumer is not one of the main reasons why labor conditions like the ones in Bangladesh exist. If we demand cheap products apparel companies will produce cheap products. If we signal them we are willing to pay a little more for fair labor conditions they will have to change. It is a matter of supply and demand. If they manufacture a large number of items that nobody wants they will eventually stop doing so. The consumers and the companies who produce in Bangladesh are mainly from Europe and the U.S. So how don't you see that it is to a large extent the Western World which causes these horrible incidents? I also don't think the argument that we had to go through the same 200 years ago counts. Firstly, it was not you who went through that period, but your ancestors. What would you say if you were in the same position? Secondly, our society has developed quite a bit since the times you are referring to. It is simply not right to have people suffer on a daily basis just because we can do so. Back in the day it had to be that way today we have a choice. This idea you are proposing is very very capitalistic and in my eyes simply wrong. And what choice are you referring to? Work or die? Is that it? I can't understand how you can be so ignorant. People in these countries are revolting. You can read that in the news. However, they are in a very tough situation and it is not as easy as you might imagine it to be...

If we, call it the consumers, the Western World or whatever you like, change our shopping behavoir things will get better!

[deleted account]

CWDKids.com is a good online store for mainstream type clothing. They have a "Made in the USA" tab, but not all of their clothes are made in the US and they do not say on the site where the others are made. They will tell you if you ask though.
Hankplayer.com sells cute Tee's that go on sale often for less than $20 each. All of their stuff is made in USA.
GardenKids.com, EarthCreations.net, and lapsaky.com are all both organic and made in the US.

At the time, I didn't know which countries had ethical laws and which didn't, so I was shopping exclusively for US made clothing. I have now learned about more "safe" countries to buy from, but it's hard to check on conditions for most manufacturing outside the US, France, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, and Australia. Stylewithheart.com keeps an updated list of brands that are ethically created and "safe" to buy, and they have links to sites where you can purchase products. I found People Tree through them, and I get a TON of my clothes there--PeopleTree doesn't sell kids stuff anymore, but if you need stuff for you, their stuff is very affordable, well made, and the fit is always beautiful.

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Sandy84 - posted on 05/13/2013

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No hard feelings, guys! You brought up so many good points I don't even know where to start...

I think this is/was the most intense Circle of Moms debate I have ever had... I think the fact that everybody is so passionate about it shows how difficult the matter really is. I think at the end of the day our opinions are not that different. Although I still think that people in the U.S. and in many countries in Europe are very priviledged and often lack the capability of reflecting about their own actions I absolutely agree that the issue is very, very difficult. As Jodi correctly mentioned there is no simple solution. I think it is awesome that you (Carol) devote so much time and money to a good cause. If more people acted like that our world would be a better place.

As Kelly already wrote I never wanted to blame 100% on the Western World. However, we (Western World) tend to oversee what implications our actions have. You may have heard of the documentary "End of Poverty". You can check it out on Youtube for free: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pktOXJr1v... I'm not saying that I believe everything that is claimed in this documentary, but in my eyes they have a point. If you find some time maybe check it out and let me know what you guys think.

I'm confident that one day our planet will be the place we want it to be. We're just not quite there yet...

Jodi - posted on 05/12/2013

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No, Carol, I don't think anyone views them as less capable. It is because you seem to think they have the same rights as the rest of us, and the same freedoms to do something about it.

Carol - posted on 05/12/2013

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How exactly am I being condescending towards people in other countries. Is it because I believe they are just as capable as anyone else? I'm not sure we share the same definition of the term?

After reading the article, I am pleased that companies are being forced to make their buildings safer. Hopefully, the government will follow through with mandatory updates or the workers will demand it. It's horrible that people had to die before they took action.

Jodi - posted on 05/10/2013

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"It amazes me how condescending people are toward other countries"

The only person I see being condescending towards other countries is you.

I actually agreed that governments needed to do something, I just didn't agree with you that it was feasible for the workers to revolt because that creates other problems of its own.

However, you will be pleased to read this.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424...

Carol - posted on 05/10/2013

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So a better answer than "sacrifice whatever it took" is "life sucks, get used to it because one person can't make a difference?" I thought that Sandy's original suggestion to do what you can was kind of the opposite of that. If everyone quit because things looked hopeless or someone even died, we wouldn't have most or all of the great strides we've had in the civil advances of even these last 50 years. Let alone the scientific advances, technological advances...

It amazes me how condescending people are toward other countries. This whole group debating me here act as if these people are more like pets that we need to take care of because they cannot possibly fend for themselves. There are solutions out there. Really. Take a look at something like Heifer International. I'm sure there are other groups, but I love this one. It works in 3rd world countries and anywhere else there's poverty - even the US. It doesn't treat people as if they are useless or helpless. It educates people how to support themselves. It sets people up with the materials to make it happen. In time, it changes whole villages or towns because of it's pass-it-on mentality. That's just one example of people helping from the outside.

People in any country can stand up to adversity. A great leader can turn a country around. Look at Martin Luther King, Jr. He wasn't a politician - he was a pastor. He took a worthy cause and woke up our whole country. He sure didn't act alone, but people sat up and finally listened when he came around. And he was murdered for what he was fighting for. I'm pretty glad people didn't give up and go home after that.

Jodi - posted on 05/10/2013

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Oh, yes, imagine what might happen if you were working in a Chinese sweat shop under similar conditions and decided to protest the government on your working conditions! From memory there was one very famous protest there that didn't turn out so well......oh, but we could tell them they should be willing to sacrifice whatever it took.

Carol, when you say things like "Every single other country is full of capable people. They make choices." and "If I lived in a country that had horrible conditions for me I would hope that I would be willing to sacrifice whatever it took to change my world for the better. That's what I'm doing where I live. Wouldn't it be great if every one did that? " it becomes very clear that you live in a very small bubble and have never had the benefit of travelling to countries where they don't have these choices you claim they have, they don't have power and in order to change their world the sacrifices they make are far above anything you could even begin to imagine in your worst nightmares.

While I totally agree with you that governments are ultimately the ones who need to make the changes, I also recognise that these people DON'T have the power to change that in many cases. You can make statements like the one above all you like, the fact is, the cultural divide is so wide that what you are saying is not even reasonable.

Having said all that, however, the other thing to consider is that these sweatshop jobs are feeding their families. IF the labour conditions were up to our standards, then our companies wouldn't bother using them, they might bring it back to our countries, and then we have these people and their families starving. It's a bit of a catch-22. So while I know that the conditions are wrong and need to improve, I also know that the alternative is starving families. The solution is not really a simple one.

Carol - posted on 05/09/2013

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I'm the one condescending? Defensive is more like it. I tend to get defensive when someone assumes that I'm a capitalistic, selfish pig who never helps anyone but myself because I believe that the cookie cut liberal answer that the Western World is to blame for most of the world's problems might be flawed.

I'm sorry that you had to hunt all the way to the first word in the second sentence to find where she blamed the entire problem on the Western World. Every single other country is full of capable people. They make choices.

If I lived in a country that had horrible conditions for me I would hope that I would be willing to sacrifice whatever it took to change my world for the better. That's what I'm doing where I live. Wouldn't it be great if every one did that?

It's obviously not as hard a sacrifice here. I realize not everyone can devote 20 hours a week volunteering or give x amount of money. I am truly blessed that my best friend/ 39 year old husband dropped dead last year and left me the financial windfall to be able to take advantage of my situation and I choose to help other people with my time and money. So blessed. No one is less of a person for not putting in the same amount of time and money. My point for saying what I personally do was to put to rest her insinuated comment that I only think of myself. It was her holier-than-thou attitude that I was responding to. I'll admit that I got snarky at the end and said that buying a freaking "ethical" shirt would solve everything. You're right that if that's all someone can do, that's awesome. I never said not to bother doing what you can. The point was not to jump to a ridiculous conclusion about me because I think that people everywhere have free will.

[deleted account]

Honestly, I completely overlooked the word "only" in Sady's original post. When I read Carol's post about it not being 100% the western world's fault, I actually went back and looked for it, and eventually found it. I don't think Sandy meant to imply that the west was completely responsible for these tragedies, but no one can deny that our consumer practices are a major part of the problem.

Quite frankly I find your attitude rather condescending. You seem to think that by just buying ethically made products we are not doing enough, thus unless we can do more, we should give up. I don't share that philosophy, instead, I think EVERY TINY BIT is helpful. You say you volunteer on a regular basis, if you have a woman who can only volunteer one day a week, do you tell her, "No, that's not enough, don't even bother?" If so, I can see why your fundraising efforts have produced such meager earnings.
Sandy, myself, and many of the people I know that are part of the movement to buy ethically made products are doing what little we can. For some of us, buying ethically made products is all we can afford to do--not everyone is privileged enough to have 20 spare hours each week to dedicate to volunteer work or thousands of dollars to spend on charity each year. Those of us who do, should, and most of the people I know, do.

We should not need our government to micro manage our morals. We shouldn't NEED legislation prohibiting products made in dangerous conditions from being sold here--if we didn't buy them, they wouldn't create them. If all someone can afford to do is purchase ethically made product, I think they should do that, and the damn well deserve that pat on their backs.


Lastly, I would like to address your statements about revolting and protests by the people forced to work in these conditions. That is MUCH easier said than done. Remember, these people do not have access to phones, internet, or social media, and most are uneducated and lack management and marketing skills. Organizing a movement big enough to make a difference for themselves is an impossible task for them. Even if a small group was able to organize themselves, they would face overwhelming opposition, and likely end up dead without making any impact whatsoever. If you think this is a cause worth dying for, why don't you go die for it? You expect others to die, but I bet you are not willing to give up your own life. That's rather hypocritical, don't you think? Are their lives worth less than yours? Why?

Carol - posted on 05/09/2013

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You're completely missing my point. People are 100% responsible for their own actions. I don't like that sweatshops exist or slavery or third world countries for that matter. People should be able to help each other out and treat each other fairly. Hunger and poverty could be eradicated if people just shared their knowledge and resources. However, that's not what's happening in the real world. You are the one that falsely claimed that it was ONLY because the Western World demanded cheap clothes. I pointed out that there were other reasons in addition to our demand.

You're now placing only the majority of the blame on us greedy Westerners. I still believe that all governments should place more value on their citizens than any amount of money. So are you trying to say that our government is forcing other governments and/or foreign people to work against their will? Maybe you do believe that - how about a different idea - other governments and foreign businesses are greedy too and see a chance to make a profit at the expense of their own flesh and blood. But in your eyes - it's just us Westerners that are at fault because we have the money to pay for the abuse.

Thank you for pointing out that I did not live through the Civil War (I accidentally said 200 years - sorry for the error) It was only about 130 years ago. I'm not sure where you saw that I was trying to take credit for it. I simply said that the country I live in abolished slavery quite a while ago. Are you seriously arguing that there was ever a time that slavery should have been tolerated? I don't care if the year is 1 AD or 2013 - why were lives back then worth less than what they are today? I would like to think that I would be just as offended at the idea of slavery or sweatshops back then as I would now. Now I see why you think Westerners are 100% at fault - these other countries just accept slavery or near-slavery as a way of life so they shouldn't be blamed for doing what's natural. That logic just blows my mind. Sorry, I don't think that I'm more capable of compassion than anyone else in the world because I live in the USA. I try to think of people as equals. My mistake I guess.

Before you go on some rant (again) about me being a captialistic pig that only cares about myself, understand that I do my part by buying domestic, supporting area homeless, volunteer an average 20 hours a week. I also ran my church's children's group effort for 3 years to raise money for Heifer International AFTER my 5 year old son and I raised over $1000 from bake sales for the same org. (look it up - very worthy cause that teaches people in over 130 countries to be self-sufficient and then gives them the start up materials needed to make it work. Once the initial recipients are on their feet, they give to a neighbor, teaching them and giving them the same thing. They in turn teach their neighbors...) I organized a relief effort for victims in Haiti after their earthquake - raising over $1000 in a church that had 85% of it's members below the poverty line. I started monthly dinners at the same church for the needy. And I spearheaded a Talents drive that raised over $5000 for Chilean victims after the earthquake that rocked their country a couple of years ago. This year I've paid for 6 Scouts' dues in addition to my own son's plus funded the adults to attend a leader's workshop and paid for prizes to get the kids to do more fundraising that resulted in triple the fundraising (my contribution for just Scout's is a conservative $2000 - this year alone), I contribute to several other area charities and several national charities yearly. That's only the most recent list of this selfish, capitalistic person. I'm sure I'm leaving a few things out.

The choice I propose is work or change. That might include dying for a cause you believe in. Obviously that is not an easy choice.

You can keep buying those locally made sweaters though and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. At least it's a start.

Carol - posted on 05/09/2013

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As much as I sympathize with such a horrible and preventable tragedy, your logic is pretty flawed. How is the Western World 100% responsible for this? The other governments are also responsible for allowing basically slave labor to go on in their countries. The people ruled by these governments could revolt and demand better treatment. I hope that they're not sitting in a sweatshop cursing us out for buying the products they made. They have a choice, maybe a very tough choice, to continue working. People would die. Eventually there would be a change. Maybe similar to what happened in our country about 200 years ago. It's time everyone take responsibility for their own actions (like you buying organic or ethically made things) and stop villainizing only the Western World. Write to your congressman and ask them to stop allowing product in so cheaply if you don't like it. Maybe they'll get the hint.

[deleted account]

Oh, I forgot to mention. I was also part of a mom's swap group. We all lived near each other and used a Yahoo group to post clothing we were willing to trade and the size clothing we were hoping to get. Because well made products were often durable enough to last for several years, a lot of these clothes were passed around time and time again.

Sandy84 - posted on 05/08/2013

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I agree again, Kelly! It makes way more sense to buy a couple of really good products than a high number of mediocre ones. I must admit though that for kids it is a little different because they outgrow their clothing so quickly... That's why this possibility to send worn stuff back appeals to me. I'm a first time mom and my son needs new products all the time. Since our clothing tends to get dirty very quickly I also wash alot and my experience tells me that organic products stay nice way longer than the cheap stuff let's say from Walmart.

I really like your idea with the campaign!

Where do you buy clothing for your son?

[deleted account]

The link wasn't working the other day, so I didn't get to look at it. It is working now.
I think the concept is really good. It is stupid that we have laws against something harmless, but no laws to protect the people who make our goods.
I like that they gave real solutions for change, and I love the idea of having customers send used clothing back for a discount.

I have adhered to a low quantity/high quality ideal for years--I don't have a ton of clothes. People get "sticker shock" when they see the high price tags on safely and well made products, but in reality I probably spend no more than the next person on my yearly wardrobe. It is just that instead of 20 or 30 poor quality garments made in unsafe factories that will wear out by the end of a year, I buy 6 or 8 high quality, well made garments that will last for several years. By adding just a few items a year and keeping a neutral color palette, I've built a very sustainable, wearable, and varied wardrobe. (Plus I don't need a closet the size of a small apartment to house it all.)

I would like a campaign that focuses on the benefits of paying a little more upfront and buying fewer products. This is a very good start for that. I will share your link.

Sandy84 - posted on 05/07/2013

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Absolutely! You're so right... I feel the exact same way. It is impossible to buy everything green, organic, eco-friendly, etc. There is always something wrong. If the stuff is not manufactured in Bangladesh it is poisonous or something. It is really not easy, but I think we can make a difference like you already said. It starts slowly and one day it will be a thing...

What do you think about that campaign I posted a couple of days ago?

[deleted account]

I know that there is currently a movement in the US toward purchasing ethically manufactured goods. It is often difficult to tell what conditions a product is manufactured in though.

I am a part of this movement, but I'm not perfect. Every person, even if you are only one person, makes a difference. People will see you doing it, and they will see that it's not as "life altering" as it seems, and they will start to do it as well.

Show them that it's not "All or Nothing." For example, I don't buy everything organic, but I do buy anything available from my local farmers, stands, and stores, then only buy things that are not available locally from our chain grocers. Most of my garments are made in first world countries with ethical laws, but occasionally, I'm forced to buy something that isn't--like my son's favorite Nike hat. I HATE Nike and had refused to own any of their products for years. Then, while on vacation, my son lost his hat and all I could find were Nike hats, so I bought one. Turns out, it's his favorite hat, and I actually had to replace it this summer :/ Not great, but I try my best, and I think that is something worth noting. A lot of people think they cannot ONLY buy ethically manufactured things, and they might be right, it might be too big a change for them to make all at once, but every little bit helps, and that little bit will grow once they get used to it.

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