We talk a lot about fair trade and what it means to be ethical and sustainable but I know this concept can be hard to grasp at the root level. We know being ethical is important, but how important is it? And what does it really mean for the supply chain? How does it impact the artisan or the manufacturer right at the beginning of the supply chain, on the other side of the world? And is it ok to do the occasional purchase at Kmart? I get it! I've asked all the same questions myself and the journey of becoming a more ethical consumer is exactly that - it's a journey!
Lucky for us, Oxfam Australia have come up with a great tool to help us called What She Makes This is a fantastic tool to give us as consumers some simple steps to call the big brands to account and petition them to pay their workers a living wage. What is a living wage? It's quite simple really - it means that a worker should earn enough to provide for themselves and their family their food, education, housing, utilities, health care, clothing, transportation and some savings. And they shouldn't have to work more than 48 hours a week to achieve that. Simple right?
But according to Oxfam, some big brands are keeping women in poverty by refusing to pay a living wage. And the statistics are quite alarming. Did you know less than 4% of the cost of the item of clothing you purchase is likely to go to the person who made it? But to fix this problem would be relatively simple. It would cost big brands less than 1% of the price of the garment to absorb the cost of paying their workers a living wage.
So come on! Is it just me or does that seem like an absolutely reasonable thing to REQUIRE big brands to do. Sure, as consumers we need to be aware, but I certainly believe big brands need to take some of this responsibility themselves to do the right thing by their supply chains. We should be able to shop at some of these chains and not worry about whether or not they are keeping women and their families in poverty. So take the pledge over at Oxfam and call on big brands to pay all their workers a living wage. It's the least we can do!