A step in the right direction

From Guardian Unlimited’s Newsblog: Nike toes the line.

So, Nike are publishing its list of suppliers in the developing and Third World nations. While that’s a good thing for their PR, it’s still miles off from demanding that their suppliers treat their workers better. There are people who write on this more eloquently than I could: the Clean Clothes Campaign, Nike Sweatshops™, Oxfam, Australia. It’s a good first step to disclose suppliers, as well as audit your own factories. This combination makes it more difficult for the company to distance itself from abuse of the basic human rights of their suppliers’ employees. ECRA (the Ethical Consumer Research Association) campaigns for companies to pay a minimum wage, provide safe working conditions, have reasonable work hours, allow workers to join unions, and drop suppliers who use forced or child labour. All very good aims that have been shown to be achievable, for small companies at least.

Since becoming a wage-earner, I’ve tried to spend most of my money on ‘fair trade’ products. I’m lucky. In Edinburgh, we have the One World Shop, which stocks a range of food, crafts, gifts, clothes etc. that have been fairly traded. OK, so some of the things they sell are a bit naff or twee, but you could get all your tea, coffee, chocolate, snacks and household goods without a blemish on your conscience. As for clothes, well… There are some decent online clothes shops. My faves, from which I’ve bought items, are: Ganesha, Gossypium, Natural Collection, and People Tree. Ganesha has a great shop in London (Gabriel’s Wharf, South Bank; between the Oxo towers and the Festival Hall), and People Tree has clothes that even trendy people can wear.

There are many ethical consumers out there who are able to sleep peacefully at night, fully aware that their possessions have not been obtained through ill-treatment of a fellow human. I, however, still feel d*mned guilty about owning a pair of Nike trainers. I only bought the darn things ‘cos I used to have a pair of Pegasus trainers in school. Right! I feel so much better now that I’ve confessed… (not) According to the useful charts in The Good Shopping Guide, I could have bought them from the following ‘slightly more ethically aware’ companies: Asics, Brooks, Cheetah, Hi-Tec, Le Coq Sportif, Mizuno, Puma, and Saucony. This is not a ringing endorsements for any of these brands. They still have red marks against them, but have taken steps to improve workers’ lives in some way or other (not good enough, guys). The Ethical Consumer magazine has kindly uploaded a PDF of the corporate profiles of the big players in trainers. I promise to get a better pair when my trainers fall to bits and need replacing. Until then, I’d better not add them to the growing waste problem

PegasusPhoto of the offensive shoes to be uploaded when Flickr gets out of the massage parlour… (Oh! You *so* don’t want to think of that in Edinburgh terms!)

Edit: This shot was taken on a walk along the river at Cramond. I could not resist taking it, as I don’t usually wear my trainers unless I’m trying to run (trying being the operative word), and it was just too neat to pass up the shot.

As for the non-voters at Not Apathetic, well, what can I say? I feel the same: betrayed, cheated, confused, and not given much of a choice. But I’m still going to vote! However unqualified my opinions are, I have thought about issues, and will weigh up the pros and cons as best I can before the 5th of May. Why? Because there are bigots out there who won’t even think twice about anything more than immigration (race issue, really…) and taxes. I fear those who will listen to the marginal parties that campaign on one issue, and thus skew the election. The UK is not a democracy, I guess no country really is, but it makes it a point that everyone resident here can vote. My vote counts here. I can choose from more than one party, and can vote for a member of the opposition without fear of recrimination from a ‘Big Brother’-like government. Oh, we’ve got it good here, and I intend to keep it that way.

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