“Når du køber uøkologisk mel, kan du være nogenlunde sikker på, at kornsorten er uinteressant, at dyrkningen var en belastning for naturen, og at forarbejdningen er foregået på en kvalitetesforringende måde” says Danish chef of New Nordic Cuisine and baker extraordinaire Claus Meyer, which in English would mean something to the extent of
“When you buy non-ecologically grown flour, you can be pretty sure that the crop is uninteresting, the cultivation a burden on nature and that its preparation has decreased quality”
Which makes me think of the common sense that we often deny when we are choosing clothes in shops and I’ll second Claus Meyer on the general note and say that
“When you buy a t-shirt for under £10, you can be pretty sure that it wont last you long, the crop is cultivated at nature’s expense, the manufacturing includes unethical practices (dare I say childlabour, long working hours, little or no protection agains chemicals, no education or health care facilities), the transportation long, and it feeding into a supply chain of unhealthy management practice, that leave very few people along the way proud of what they have done” -then think about a t-shirt for £2!?
Its really common sense, if you go out of denial for a minute and think about what needs to be paid for, lets do the reverse engineering:
Sales: The shop, including rent, utilities, maintenance, interior; shop personal, salaries, training, health care; brand development and advertising; (this doesn’t apply to the little stalls); import, freight, stock management, outsourcing quality control and supplier management,..
Production: Sales, export management, contract pitching and client proposals; production facilities, machinery, rent, utilities; production personal, salary, training and possibly healthcare; material sourcing, stock management quality control, supplier and supply management; import, freight or possibly just transportation,..
Preparation: Preparing of the crop into material: facilities, machinery, rent, utilities, staff, salaries, training, supply chain management, quality control,..
Crop farming: Seeds, nurturing, harvesting; farming labour: salaries, training, possibly healthcare; landownership, tools and machinery; pitching for buyers and business management,..
These are just the basic stages that I can imagine off the top of my head, I’m sure that there are many more expenses and stages, but the point is: how much is left for each one of these people to deliver their goods and services? With the danger of being moralistic, but with no intention to judge: If you allow common sense, would you then buy this t-shirt?
The American business professor Pietra Rivoli of Georgetown University has written a narrative, educating and entertaining detective story meets personal contemplation about the state of the world, called “The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy”.
The book is non-judgemental support to the common sense for anyone interested in ethical aspects or call it the consequences of consumer society.
The New York Fashion Institute of Technology describes the work: “In The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, business professor Pietra Rivoli takes the reader on a fascinating around-the-world adventure to reveal the life story of her six-dollar T-shirt. Traveling from a West Texas cotton field to a Chinese factory, and from trade negotiations in Washington to a used clothing market in Africa, Rivoli examines international trade through the life story of this simple product. Combining a compelling story with substantive scholarship, Rivoli shows that both globalization’s critics and its cheerleaders have oversimplified the world of international trade.”
A synopsis of the book is available for free via executiveforum here