I am going to rant about the comments section of a Facebook post advertising shoes made to a really high ethical standard and priced accordingly. It is a long rant.
If you share the opinions of the negative commenters, please do not air those views here!
Also, if you can’t afford these shoes (I can’t at the moment either) please, I don’t need to know that.
We are talking about the poverty of workers who make the cheaper shoes, not our relative poverty, here. Let’s respect that most of the folks on my friends list, however skint, are richer than a shoe factory worker in Indonesia will ever be.
We are all used to cheap shoes. You can probably buy low quality canvas shoes for a quid in some places. Cheap shoes just seem like a thing we should be able to have.
Problem with this:
Cheap clothes come at a high cost to the people who make them and make the materials they’re made from.
Right from the farmer growing the cotton to the ones making the rubber for the soles. The people transporting it, packing it, distributing it.
It takes a lot of people to make one simple pair of canvas shoes, which when you think about it makes the £1 or £5 or £18 pair more a little dodgy.
Somebody is paying for us to have all the many many cheap things. Somebody poorer and less privileged than us. Also, the planet pays in intensive farming and polluting processes.
You know this already.
In contrast to non-organic, non-fair-trade shoes, these ones seem hugely expensive at £69 a pair. This is because this company has checked it’s supply line ALL the way down and does things properly.
That’s what the shoes cost. It is a bit of a shock to most of us, accustomed to a pair for £5 at the local Primark.
The commenters have wasted no time wading in as if, by charging a proper price, the company is violating *their* rights.
Nobody has the *right* to cheap goods at the expense of workers or the environment.
I can understand how Western middle class people think that having a cheaper wardrobe at the expense of some humans on the other side of the planet is something we are entitled to – but it is not.
Now, I can’t always afford the highest levels of ethics although I do try to. Sometimes I can buy the best, sometimes I have to compromise. I have bought the £5 shoes and the novelty t shirts – sometimes when I didn’t really need them. Mea culpa.
I’m sure you don’t only buy Fair Trade + Organic every time either (again, no need to tell me why, I get it, but I don’t want this to become a thread airing our first world poverty mindsets).
I repeat: I can’t comfortably afford £69 for these shoes.
What I will never do is bash a company for doing the right thing and charging the right price.
Me not being able to buy the pretty shoes I want is very much a #firsttworldproblem
The outrage and entitlement of these commenters is mind blowing.
They get REALLY FLIPPING ANGRY when somebody does something fairly. Even though they can still go and buy the cheap shoes.
My money is on them already owning an adequate supply of shoes, but they thought that they can’t ‘afford’ these ones has obviously REALLY pushed their buttons.
The real reason for the anger, of course, is guilt. They know those cheap shoes are morally dodgy as hell. We all know that.
I feel that guilt too, but I don’t heave it back as anger at an ethical company.
Another reason for the anger is that we, living in the richest countries on the planet, have internalised a message of lack. We think we are poor enough to have earned the right to exploit other people and wreck the environment.
This is a lie.
We know the solution:
We need to change how we look at our economic interactions with those who make our stuff. We need to consume a lot less, and consume consciously and fairly.
We need to support companies doing the right thing, even if it’s uncomfortably out of our price range.
At the very least, we must not attack these companies, even when our budget does not allow us to buy from them.
We need to lose the poverty and scarcity story which makes us plunge our fellow humans into true poverty, and pollute our planet.
Repeat after me:
There is enough to go around.
We can all live in abundance.
We can treat each other fairly.
We can consume smaller amounts and enjoy high quality, durable, beautiful things whilst living in a principled way.
We can do it in little ways, even when we do not feel rich enough.
This world is possible.
We are creating this world, even if we are not there yet.