Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Social Responsibility

Hey, this is my first attempt at my learning journal, so please be kind.

To begin with, I want to look at social responsibility. Is it it the responsibility of the company, or is it the responsibilty of us, the consumer?

Whilst on the exchange, I've had the same recurring conversation about Primark. It's cheap, we know it's cheap, which leads us to the inevitable conclusion that it sources it's clothes from sweatshops. In fact, apparently it's been named the least ethical company (http://tinyurl.com/5brhxc). And yet, other volunteers on the programme and I still shop there. What's worse, I didn't even start shopping in Primark regularly until I knew I was coming on this exchange. Is this really a great reflection on people apparently becoming active global citizens? Yes, we don't have a great deal of money, but is this really an acceptable reason?

Before I perform a complete character assination of Primark and their consumers, are they really alone in their social irresponsibility? Just a quick glance at the labels in the clothes from most of the high street stores reveals clothes sourced from Bangledesh, Hungary, Turkey, and the now favourite China. How is a girl to know where to get clothes which hasn't involved someone working in cramped, sweaty working conditions? In the past, I have tried to research the working conditions of the countries that the clothes are sourced from, but most of the time I have had to either swallow my niggling ethics and buy the garment regardless, or just go without. Unfortunately due to the fact I'll be in Syria for the boiling hot summer, I've had to lean towards the former option.
One solution to all this would to only ever buy clothes from People Tree. This isn't without its pitfalls however, as a T-shirt is likely to set me back £35, a handsome sum of money for someone struggling on £15 a week...