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Friday, 26 April 2013

When is a bargain not a bargain?

For a long time, Dave has been very ethical in his buying.  He likes a bargain, as who doesn't, but he wouldn't go for one that was attached to an ethically-challenged production or buying practice.  I have always both loved this morality and been annoyed about it.  In fact, since this post seems to be about ethics, I have to say, I sometimes scoffed at it.

I didn't find it hard not to shop at Walmart, especially when we had a Zeller's store in walking distance of our place, and I
didn't struggle with sympathizing and signing petitions about the employment practices and working conditions of employees.  I wasn't thinking deeply enough.  Joe Fresh didn't come into my ethical seller's radar at all.  

In my defence, I have to say that Joe Fresh is a wonderfully soothing name for a product, and it didn't hurt that the clothes and shoes were smart-looking and made for Canadian weather.  And they're sold in Loblaw's for goodness sake!

Still, when I see the photos and hear the stories of the people working in that now-collapsed building in Bangladesh, I am ashamed not to have given more thought to the ethics of lower pricing and the connection to people making $38 a month.

It's not about Joe Fresh or Forever 21 as a product.  I'm ashamed that even though I heard, and was saddened by, news stories about the sad circumstances of production in impoverished countries, I distanced myself, didn't really pay any attention to the humanity side of the issue, and failed to think about anything other than my cost while I continued to troll for bargains.

Damn, I'm annoyed with myself.  I hope I do more than think Dave is a sweet man for being so aware and so concerned.


  1. I have both thought and taught about this issue in the past. I have come to the conclusion that buying items from third world countries is a help to the poor and not a hindrance. If you don't buy, you take away the only job that they have, which they very want to have btw. Get as mad at the capitalist abusers as you like, and do try to change things, but understand that such jobs are these people's lifelines. In many cases, they have moved off the land and can't go back, and their lousy jobs are all there is for them. By all this preaching, I don't mean to support WM itself, but I am going on (in my poor fashion) about the general principal of purchasing or not purchasing certain kinds of goods from certain countries.

    PS: At one time in my life, I made more sense than I do now. :(

  2. I thunk Anvicloud makes some excellent points. That said, I am careful about what and where I buy and sign a couple dozen petitions every day. Down here we're doing a lot of things to support legislation for changes. My philosophy is that one should do what one can when one can and re-evaluate from time to time if it isn't working.

  3. Dave sounds like a very wise man. I'm more like you...but hopefully will now remember the horrors of this tragedy.