Friday, November 29, 2013

Made in wherever - ethics in outdoorgear and the production thereof

Well, you may have noticed by now that I have begun to share other people's texts too. It is not because I have become lame or lazy nor that I have nothing to say. It is just that these posts or articles are so well that there is little more to add, in my point of view. Plus they fit in within the frame of ideas of this blog. Before I post them I of course ask permission to do so first and wait untill I get it. Here's another. It's about ethics in regard to outdoorgear and the production thereof.

I came across a blog called; scandinavian-hiking.com and I found some very interesting items there;
A small sample;
I avoid buying goods made with exploited labour, and have investigated various hiking/climbing companies in order to find out who has a focus on ethical manufacture. This has been hugely informative not only in revealing to me the horrifying and depressing human rights transgressions made in the quest for cheap clothing and gear, but also in showing the gear companies in a new light. It's interesting to wander through Addnature and see which brands must be making ridiculous profits with premium priced gear subcontracted out at arm's length to the cheapest cut'n'sew factories, and to see which brands manage to sell competitively priced gear despite manufacturing out of their own factories in high-cost developed countries.
This started five years ago when I had an argument with a friend. He said it was literally impossible to avoid purchases that were 'Made in China'. I disagreed out of contrariness, started checking tags when buying clothes, and found there were some brands still manufacturing outside of South-East Asia. I began to buy Scandinavian stuff as much as possible, and thereafter European or other developed countries, figuring it would mean less shipping and a higher chance of having your goods made by someone with a decent wage and with decent healthcare. Since then I have spent a lot of time reading up on fair labourand contacting companies, and realised it's not as simple as I thought. So now I want to write down my results and complicated conclusions.

A small sample;
The first part of this post took a look at outsourcing in developing countries. Outsourcing makes the world economy more efficient, brings cheap goods to consumers and drives up the GDP of developing nations. However outsourcing has a dark side of exploitation, abuse and oppression. It's a complex issue, and one that everyone should try and educate themselves on.
For this second part I want to focus on the responses from various hiking/climbing companies about the issue. I only contacted companies that I buy from (so there are many companies that are not in the mix here). However this post is not meant to be a summary of findings about specific companies. Instead what I picked up from all of this research is that the really important detail isn't where the gear is made, but the why behind the where.

2 comments:

  1. If I might comment here a year later on this subject; this comes up on other forums, too. Sometimes the criticisms I read in other places are misplaced, other times spot on. The ethics of labor practices isn't mentioned so much, however.

    Usually the criticisms focus on the fact that things are imported and cheap instead of high quality and domestically produced. My response to that is that there is a market for cheap and inferior products. We just used to produce them here instead of importing them. Curiously, at one time and still to an extent, "imported" carried with it a certain status. Really, it's totally illogical to complain about things imported from China and then to praise something that came from the U.K. And besides, if it isn't made right here where I live, it's imported in one sense of the word.

    The irony is that even with all the imported products from low-wage developing countries being sold here, there are still workers in this country who are exploited in the worst sense of the word. I suspect that it won't get better either, not since Reagan made labor unions irrelevant, going on illegal. Logically, of course, we'd make our purchases based on the actual characteristics and quality of the goods in question but who says we behave logically?

    ReplyDelete
  2. The main issue I think is that everything has to be as cheap as possible, so we can buy more. And that of course comes at a price and someone somewhere down the line has to pay that price.
    And then there still is that ridiculous patriotic flagwaving. If it has your flag on it than, by definition, it is better. Yeah, right....

    ReplyDelete