As we all know, raising children in today’s society can be a financial challenge for many. As mothers, we are often seeking the best deal on the purchases we make. Like many, I do consider myself to be a responsible consumer and I try to purchase from ethical sources.
The recent tragedy in a Bangladesh factory that resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives, however, revealed that some of the stores that I purchase from on a regular basis were in some way or another linked to the poor working conditions of this particular factory.
The majority of those who lost their lives that tragic day were our fellow mothers, working to provide the basis necessities of life to their families.
Those lost in the building collapse have not been far from my thoughts since that day. My appreciation has greatly increased for the companies run by my fellow Canadian moms who I know put the ethical treatment employees as a top priority in their company operations. Peekaboo Beans, Redfish Kids Clothing, KiKi Kids, and Red Thread Design are some of my favourite Canadian brands started and operated by some fabulous Canadian moms.
The success of these businesses lead me to wonder: why can’t all companies choose to manufacture goods in an ethical manner? Isn’t it a fundamental obligation of ours? Why is that for some, despite the obvious financial challenges, this is of such high importance, and yet for many, it is not? In order to address this issue, I decided to speak to a friend and local artisan, who I know has given this very topic much thought and consideration.
Heather Horsey makes beautiful silver jewellery in my Canadian hometown. She recently designed and marketed a “Teach, Feed, Soar” bracelet benefitting my not for profit organization, Mom2Mom Africa. I asked Heather why she chooses to run her business, Swaysilver, in such an admirable and ethical manner.
Her response was equally as admirable: “It’s no secret that for centuries the jewellery industry has been wrought with social injustices and it’s good to see some headway being made in the ethical production of jewellery by using recycled materials and lab-created gemstones. The metal I use is recycled silver, harvested from catalytic converters from the car manufacturing industry. In my opinion, a lot of good has come out of creating jobs overseas, however, it is in the best interest of everyone to make sure the working conditions are safe and pay is fair”.
It is common knowledge that overseas factories provide a huge cost-savings to many companies, enabling them to provide products to interested purchasers at bargain prices. This is a huge challenge to entrepreneurs, like Heather, who are trying to provide products at a competitive price without compromising ethical standards.
According to Heather, “while bargains are enticing, I’d rather buy from a company that I know is going above and beyond to put caring for people first no matter where the product is being made. Competing in price is a challenge only when it is assumed that I should be able to make by hand something that is quickly made by machine in a factory overseas. I do my best to create designs that are original and artistically interesting in order to set my work apart from something that is mass-produced”.
I truly believe that we need to shift our focus from finding the best possible bargain to instead ensuring that our purchased products are being made in a manner that provides safe and respectable working conditions for employees. I encourage everyone to research the way in which products from your favourite companies are produced. Our actions have a direct impact on the lives of many around the world. It is our moral obligation to help those in need, and not endanger the lives of others in order to benefit ourselves. I encourage you to support local artisans and companies of high ethical standards in your communities.
Saving a few dollars can mean the difference between life and death for others.
As mothers and consumers, we have the power to create change and prevent another needless workplace tragedy.
This is an original World Moms Blog post by Canadian writer and founder of Mom2Mom Africa, Alison Frasier.
Are you conscientious about the ethics and conditions under which the products you purchased are sourced?
Great post! This is so important. I don’t do enough in this area. I go through periods of being more thoughtful in my purchases but then will lapse. In the hustle and bustle of life with 2 young boys, I’m trying to maximize my time and shopping, so I don’t research things as much as I could. Your post is reminding me to do better.
Love this post Allison! I agree it is awful and even as a woman I find it hard to buy fashionable clothing at a reasonable price that is ethically made. Thanks so much for sharing!
I totally agree with what you say here, but the sad reality is that many people *do* have to save every dime they possibly can. Right now, I’m in that position myself. I am the primary financial provider for my family, and I have recently been laid off. I am in the position of needing new clothing to wear to job interviews, and it makes economic sense for me to shop at places where I can pay less. When I am financially stable, however, I do make a concerted effort to find out where the stuff I’m buying was made and under what conditions.
Thanks for the thought-provoking post.
I’ve been doing the best I can at buying socially responsible, but am often surprised at how much there is that I don’t know about the manufacturing processes of the goods that I already own. I really enjoyed this post, Alison. Keep up the “good” work!
Amen! I’m learning to become a more socially conscious shopper every day. Reading posts like this just reminds me how important it is to pay attention to what we buy and where it comes from. Thanks!
I am not very conscious in a day to day shopping sentence. I do go out of my way to purchase things from an organization that actively helps people when i am exposed to things like that. for instance when i send flowers i do it through an organization that has integrated handicapped people into their business and taught them a trade.
Setting, not sentence….darn autocorrect…