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Oct 04 2011

Kanteensploitation

Central Texan spinster aunts on the go are apt to become desiccated if they don’t tote around cold, life-giving liquids at all times. For this reason I once possessed a thing called Klean Kanteen, an insulated steel vacuum bottle in which I stashed my iced coffee and filtered organic free range rainwater. Wheresoever I went, so too wenteth the Klean Kanteen. Horribly, one day a dust storm snatched it out of my tentacle and blew it up to Kansas (or maybe a dingo ite it, who can remember?). Anyway, I never really got over the loss, because that Klean Kanteen was the bomb. They’re not joking around with that insulation. I’ve come back the next day and found ice cubes and half a marg still rattling around in that thing. Par-tay.

So the other day I ordered a couple of new Klean Kanteens off the internet, but when the box arrived I could but curl the spinster lip. I was obliged to create the mess pictured below that I might liberate my bottles from the packaging and proceed with my beverage-centric life.

Waste products generated by purchase of 2 insulated bottles

A. Tissue paper
B. Packing material
C. Shipping carton
D. Display cards containing the “Café” (i.e. sippy cup) lids
E. Instruction cards advising the consumer that hot liquids are apt to be hot
F. Guitar case sticker, so you can advertise Klean Kanteen at Burning Man
G. Brochure for Recharge, a sort of designer Gatorade powder
H. Two samples of Recharge
I. Paper tags attached to superfluous plastic lids
J. Superfluous plastic lids
K. Ball chain attaching the superfluous tags to the superfluous lids

Who wraps a steel cylinder in tissue? It’s steel. If I’d wanted to unwrap an object encased in miles of packaging, I’d have ordered a Ming vase with a unicorn egg in it.

Crabby at the prospect of having to responsibly dispose of all this crap (can you even recycle ball chain?), I looked up Klean Kanteen’s website so I could waggle a bitter claw at their No-BPA!/pro-environment/garbage generating hypocrisy. That’s when I discovered that they make the damn things in China.

But chillax, O thou Klean Kanteen kustomer! Klean Kanteen shares “some of” your concerns about buying crap of Chinese manufacture. They devote a whole section of the site to warming your cockles with stories of exquisitely content factory workers. Take, for example, this heartwarming tableau: a Klean Kanteen “representative” visits the factory’s undisclosed location 4 times a year, not just to check quality control, but also to share tea and crumpets with a lucky menial.

Meet Yao Sheng Fu, one of the workers at our manufacturing site in China. During one of our regular visits, he sat down with Klean Kanteen® and shared a little about his life and what it’s like to work at the factory.

Yao had just finished his shift and was happy* to join Klean Kanteen co-owner Jeff Cresswell on the patio that overlooks the open quad at the factory grounds.** Over tea and some tasty Chinese pastries,*** he told us he moved from the province of Gui Zhon, known for steel production, to work at the Klean Kanteen® factory four years ago.

“Many people want to work at this factory because it has a reputation for being a good place,” he said, explaining that the factory’s reputation is part of the reason he moved here. He hopes it will continue to grow.

He travels home to see his family about twice a year and always goes during Chinese New Year.

When Jeff asked him where he’d go if he could travel anywhere in the world, Yao said he’d love to visit New York City.

Yeah, and when Jeff asked him what he’d do if he could have any job in the world, Yao said that after he gets back from his fabulous New York vacation (he’s staying at the Waldorf), he’d love to remain here at the unnamed factory, churning out metal bottles for sanctimonious American yuppies for all time.

Zhang family in jeans factory: not too chipper. From Last Train Home by Lixin Fan.

I don’t know if you saw the 2009 documentary “Last Train Home”? It aired on “POV” the other night, and it’s been haunting me ever since. It’s an awesome and wrenching film about a Chinese factory worker family and how totally fucking screwed they are. Motivated by a desire to fund the education that they believe will improve the lives of the children they left behind, the Zhangs move from the farm to a distant factory town to sew overpriced jeans for American export. For 16 years they endure fingers worked to the bone, makeshift dormitory living, cooking on the floor, slave wages, domestic violence, broken dreams, road to hell paved with good intentions, and the annual trip home for Chinese New Year.

I mention this film because that’s the backdrop: the annual migration of hundreds of millions of Chinese factory workers (“the single largest migrant work force in the world”) as they all throng their way home to rural villages for Chinese New Year. It takes the Zhangs days, in mobbed trains and buses, to traverse 1300 miles. When they finally arrive, they discover that the kid for whom they’ve sacrificed a decade and a half of their lives in meaningless drudgery has gone rogue. At 17 she blows off school, moves to a big city and gets a job in a nightclub, and well, you know where that’s going. Before she scrams, her father beats the crap out of her. Which beating, incidentally, the filmmaker records with a cool, unflinching detachment, making the violence seem like a sane and logical outcome of Zhang’s pact with the devil.

Klean Kanteens make pretty girls smile, despite prune-hands from latex gloves. From Klean Kanteen website.

Anyway, I imagine that Yao Sheng Fu, maker of my Klean Kanteen, is one of the New Year’s throng who has made a similar devil-pact. Maybe Mr Pastry-Eating Kanteen Honcho’s quarterly factory visits do ensure that Yao isn’t cooking on the floor in a warehouse dorm hellhole while he supports a distant family that he beats up at New Year’s, but then again, maybe they don’t.

You may flatter yerself that you’re doing no harm — such as when you buy a reusable steel canteen so you can stop littering the world with those endless plastic Ozarka bottles — but no matter what, you’re always reaming someone. That’s the main sucky thing about the whole patriarchy set-up, it turns everybody into a fucking asshole. Me, Mr Zhang, Mr Kanteen: what a bunch of schmucks.

____________________
* Yeah, I’ll bet old Yao Sheng Fu was happy as a clam to hang around the sweatshop with some rich gringo suit after slaving over the steel bottle machine for 12 or 16 hours.

** No doubt the pampered Klean Kanteen workers lounge around on this picturesque patio sipping cosmos during their numerous breaks.

*** Quaint indigenous local foods are awesome.

54 comments

1 ping

  1. buttercup

    Last Train Home was mindblowing. Millions of people live like that. Hard to get your head around it.

    Trader Joe’s irks me with the superfluous packaging, too. For a supposedly hippy dippy eco-conscious outfit, they sure to put a lot of shit in clamshells and inside plastic wrap.

  2. Orange

    I know, buttercup! I love Trader Joe’s lavender hand soap, but they don’t offer me a 1-gallon refill pouch with which to refill my pump bottles. Why do I need to be tossing pump bottles all the time?

    I ordered some socks from Zappos. Wigwam socks, made in Sheboygan, Wisconsin! No exploitation of Chinese laborers. However, the shipping carton was roughly 16x20x8, for six pairs of short socks that were packed inside another box. Why?

  3. otoc

    “Last Train Home” is a good one (meaning it will make you feel things). So is “Up The Yangtze”; very similar themes. Both available on Netflix instant.

    SIGG’s are made in Switzerland. Not sure if they have insulated versions. http://mysigg.com/store/bottles.html

  4. quixote

    I’ve taken to reading labels in the hope of buying stuff not made in China. Sometimes it’s made in Taiwan. Also Honduras, Philippines, Dominican Republic. But mainly China. China, China, China.

    One day I needed hummingbird feeders, the flat, flying saucer kind. They arrived and — wait for it — they were made in the USA! I got so excited I ran around the house shouting, “Hey, these are made in the USA!” Only things I’ve come across recently that are made here, besides guns and Boeing aircraft.

  5. Kea

    Yes, In the P most evil is done in the name of The Children. Never mind if said children are abused and tormented and their Earth is raped. As the English Pitt once said: necessity is the excuse for all oppression and the creed of slaves.

  6. Nadiah

    Thank you for writing this. Yes, unfortunately simply avoiding “Made in China” seems to be the go, as there is only one organisation in China with World Fair Trade Organization endorsement (Yunnan Danyun), and it’s very much handcrafts oriented. Given that China is the miscellaneous-things-manufacturing powerhouse of the world, simply avoiding it is also impossible. We are all forced to participate.

  7. Ron Sullivan

    Piled up my emptied inhalers (minimum 3/month, plastic sleeves and aerosol/plastic metal canisters) for a couple of years. No numbers on the plastic; we can recycle # 1 and #2 here. Can’t toss in the canisters because the plastic doodads are pretty much integral, or at least beyond my strength to wrench out. Had vague ideas about an art project. Got depressed and threw the pile t’fuck out.

    Pill bottles are some kinda plastic labeled #5. Six or seven a month. Same procedure. There are only so many sufficiently-dried seeds I can store. This is before even getting around to eating and drinking. Don’t get me started on the Evil AgroPharmaChemo Corps, names and compositions changing with blinding speed to evade whatever’s-the-latest-criminal charges/taxes.

    IBTP, three times a day and more in pollen season

  8. Shelby

    Uugggghhhhh! Pass the fucken razor blades willya?

    Thanks for coming back Jilly.

  9. Lady K

    @Quixote – I might be Captain Obvious here, but “Made in USA” can (and often does) mean, “Made in Guam,” where, although things are better than they used to be re: fair wages and labor laws, the minimum wage is lower than in the US and it’s easier to get away with illegal sweatshop labor. Yay, colonialism!

  10. Julezyme

    I work in a biology lab. Routinely open 2 sq ft packing boxes to unearth a single 2 cm box which contains a single 1 cm plastic tube.
    Whyyyyy?!

  11. Laura in Rome

    I second the Sigg recommendation. I have a couple, not insulated. Lots of pretty colors.

    For clothes, there’s not much an American can do any more if you want to buy them new. I guess for t-shirts and jeans you could try American Apparel (“Made in Downtown LA. Vertically Integrated Manufacturing.” Whatever that means.) But they’ve got a little advertising problem, namely with their photographs of teenage girls.

    You can’t even get around being an asshole by making your own clothes, considering that most of the cloth is produced in China, Bangladesh, and Central America. It’s a little depressing.

  12. Kristin

    I saw Last Train Home months ago, and it’s still haunting me. I cannot stop thinking about that family. If we try not to buy stuff made in China, how will that help them? Won’t they have an even more difficult life? I don’t know.

    I think there should be much more condemnation of all the businesses who move their operations there (and to the third world) because of workers who get crap pay and have no rights.

  13. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    The 64 oz. model klean kanteen is resting at my elbow as I write, because they find worms and shit in the drinking fountains in this place. I fill it with tap water before I leave the house every morning. I stowed the extra lid and ball chain beneath the kitchen sink, home of much crap I don’t know what to do with.

    The thought of the sweatshop labor brings a very familiar feeling over me — I feel like a horse’s ass. Even if it is made in the USA, someone was exploited in the course of its manufacture. Triangle fire, anyone? Working conditions have not changed all that much.

  14. speedbudget

    Capitalism is cannibalism by nature. The idea is to make a profit, and the only way to make a profit is by cutting labor costs. Exploitation is a feature of capitalism, not a bug.

    I wish we could have a conversation about the evils of capitalism in our country without all the idiots yelling about socialists so you can’t hear the conversation anymore. There has to be a better model than all profits all the time.

  15. Jill

    they find worms and shit in the drinking fountains in this place

    Where do you work, in the Mississippi River?

  16. phio gistic

    I’d like to see requirements that when companies based in the USA build a factory in another country they still must pay a living wage, follow OSHA standards, pay for health care and retirement, support unionizing, fly out external inspectors, etc.
    I’d also like to see all products come with a sheet that lists the components/ingredients, where they came from, who did the work, and some kind of universal numbers representing total environmental damage (TED) and human misery quotient (HMQ). Then at least one could make informed choices. Or brag about your clothing’s low (or high) TEDs and HMQs.

  17. Jill

    “If we try not to buy stuff made in China, how will that help them?”

    That’s the shit part. It shouldn’t have to be a choice between exploitation and starvation.

    Buying the stuff is exploitative. Human rights abuses are the very thing what make China so attractive to American manufacturers in the first place. American companies wouldn’t be farming out their manufacturing to China if they (the Americans) were willing to pay workers a living wage.

    Which is why I am reluctant to believe that Klean Kanteen’s laborers are quite so well looked after as the website claims, despite the vaunted quarterly inspections. If KK felt like paying a living wage, they’d be making those damn bottles in Chico, CA.

    In “Last Train Home” Lixin shows the couple living in this kind of massive indoor tent city. Like, bunk beds in a cubicle a la sleeper berths on a train, separated by “walls” of fabric and PVC. Maybe some of the Klean Kanteen factory laborers live in decent apartments with their kids, but it’s clear that Yao Sheng Fu at least is a migrant worker who visits his family only twice a year. Is he the only one? Not likely. When, I ask you, has “migrant worker” ever been a desirable occupation?

  18. Jill

    Phio, agreed, but these middle-tier US manufacturers don’t own the Chinese factories. They contract out. There are third-party inspectors that the Americans can hire, but there’s nothing to prevent the Americans from ignoring any untoward findings, if it suits their bottom line. And, as has been pointed out already, the bottom line is the whole reason they’re in China in the first place.

  19. ivyleaves

    More on the Chinese economy and real estate – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPILhiTJv7E

    Also, check out Life and Debt – a film on the decimation of Jamaica after its independence that has the participation of former Prime Minister Michael Manning detailing how the monetary funds preconditioned loans by forcing them to accept agricultural surplus from the US, which decimated their internal agriculture, and then led to a special zone for sweatshops run by foreigners to exploit the labor, and also documents the banana exploitation as well. And with all that, they were not allowed to spend the money to develop their county, but had to accept it to prevent starvation. It is excellent. The irony of it all is that US farmers get subsidies for agriculture, get access to markets in other countries, but in the US all the factory jobs get removed to other countries. It’s an entire global financial and economic system impoverishing the populations of wealthy and poor countries alike, continuing destruction of the environment, and benefitting only a few rich folks world wide.

  20. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    No Missipissi River, just good ol’ NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio. Safety is one of the organization’s core values, but mostly there are empires upon devotion to lip service.

  21. Tehomet

    The FairTrade movement (e.g. http://www.fairtrade.org.uk) addresses some of the issues involved, but doesn’t presently do much for the producers of manufactured consumer products in industralised countries, as opposed to people producing foodstuffs and textiles in mostly agricultural countries. Unfortunately.

  22. weeza

    In the slideshow, in image 10 which professes the high standards of health and safety in the factory, it looks like the gentleman pictured is missing most of his index finger. Am I seeing things? (Or not-seeing things?)

  23. Citizen Jane

    Can anyone give some advice regarding what privileged assholes like me can do about this?

    Thanks to the internet you can actually buy some stuff directly, hopefully without going through an exploiter. For example, you can buy tea directly from Chinese tea farmers on Ebay. So that possibly helps a little bit? Barely? There must be something else to do.

  24. nails

    If the jobs were worth a shit they would have them in america or canada. Fucking liars.

  25. quixote

    (Just to be clear, I wasn’t trying to imply that “Made in USA” meant anything good. I’m only moaning about my personal misadventures a) trying to find anything not made in China, and b) anything made by halfway-decently-treated workers. The sweatshops in Honduras, etc., aren’t all that great either. To say nothing of the sweatshops in the US. Hello, Amazon. And, indeed, not buying the stuff doesn’t help the workers either. It’s all big stinking mess. I actually blame greed even more than the patriarchy, but given that I’m here, what the hell,

    IBTP.)

  26. Carpenter

    “If we try not to buy stuff made in China, how will that help them?”

    Noami Klein’s suggestion at the end of NoLogo was not to stop buying the stuff made in China or wherever, but to send money and or other material support to the union movement in those places.

    Or

    You could always make this
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Three-Minute-Thermos/

  27. Amberbug

    Found this a few months ago. Its to track how many of the products and services you use are produced by slavery. http://www.slaveryfootprint.org/

  28. M

    With the aid of my two children (they don’t ask if I own a second adult), I score 38.

    If they included questions about my job, it’d be higher. Not that I’m the CEO or anything – there just wouldn’t be a whole lot of point me sitting about in England critiquing print work done in China and Bangladesh, if there weren’t “fast fashion” outlets all over the UK selling cheap clothes made over there, too. Their shitty jobs keep me in my average one.

    I need a drink. Please could no one tell me who made the bottle it came in before I empty it?

  29. Rididill

    @Carpenter – agreed.

    People wouldn’t take those jobs if they had better alternatives. Sure, it’s exploitative, but if there was something better and they had the means to do it, they would already be doing it. It’s all very well sanctimoniously condemning these places by comparing it to what we enjoy in the West, but that is not the relevant question for these people. The relevant question for them is, what’s my alternative? How can I get better conditions when the poor working conditions are the only reason I can get this job in the first place, and all the other employment opportunities are worse?

    If you want to help them, taking money OUT of their economy and putting it back into the US economy on the rationale that you don’t want to be a part of it, you’re really just serving yourself and your own sense of moral purity. You may even make things worse as factories will try to cut costs even more with declining profits, and companies do not get the message that it’s about working conditions if there is no organized campaign. All they see is a drop in sales figures and a drop in revenue, if they see anything at all (unlikely, as not enough mass action). So they will cut more corners on working conditions and wages.

    Just trying to dissociate yourself from the systems of slavery in this world does nothing to dismantle them.
    You are better off supporting unions and advocating for social security benefits worldwide. When the choice is work here and be exploited or have nothing at all, the only way people can advocate for their rights is to have an alternative, a safety net to fall back on.

    What good really are consumer-driven boycotts? Do we really want to be promoting the idea of voting with your dollars? Because if that’s what democracy means these days, well, no one has a chance but the corporations and billionaires. Why do you think things like fair trade and ethical consumerism are so popular amongst corporations? It cements their power. It cements the systems behind their power. We need mass action and we need a clear message that’s about democratizing the economy. And you can’t do that with consumer choice activism. Because that is nothing more than telling the rich they have already one. They have the most votes in that system, after all.

  30. otoc

    Kristin, you might want to check out hessnatur.com

    I am not saying it will save the world, that all that many people can afford it, that I know the company’s claims to be true, that people should buy new clothes, that it’s the only solution, etc. etc. etc. but you might want to check it out. Supposedly organic, supposedly fair/ethical, a member of was it Clean Clothes? I can’t remember. I haven’t purchased anything from them so I can’t speak to the quality but I find their claims very interesting.

    Rididill, if I have a choice (and the means and the luxury of time etc.) to give my dollars to companies who are doing things I believe in, I prefer that my dollars go to them, to keep them profitable, to try to grow the good things they are doing. If organic cotton or fair trade chocolate becomes a thing that companies believe consumers want, I also think that’s a good thing, because it doesn’t matter to me if companies are doing actual good things solely for profit. Of course, there is no perfect solution and others will come to different conclusions, and there’s a lot of greenwashed, faux-ethical crap out there.

  31. Danielle

    A Ming vase with a unicorn egg in it. You are my single most reliable source of snorting laughter, even if it’s usually surrounded by some seriously eye-opening and depressing shit.

  32. Nine Deuce

    There is no such place as Gui Zhon, nor is it likely that there is such a person as Yao Sheng Fu. There IS a province in China called Guizhou where steel is produced, and there are likely many people named Yao Shengfu there, but Jeff Cresswell doesn’t need to know that from Shinola. He just needs to expense a vacation to China and pretend to be taken in by the show the factory managers put on for the benefit of visiting foreigners who pretend to care about labor conditions.

  33. Nadiah

    @Citizen Jane: For commodities like chocolate, coffee, sugar, look for the Fairtrade Certified logo. It will appear on the product itself. For other items, look for endorsement of the organisation or its producers by the World Fair Trade Organization or one of its regional bodies. In the US, that would be the Fair Trade Federation. If a business has it, they will mention it in their promotional materials – it’s not a label for a product like Fairtrade Certified. FTF members can be verified on this page – http://www.fairtradefederation.org/ht/d/Memdir/pid/1722

    In Australia, we have a label called ‘Ethical Clothing Australia’ which is certification for Australian made clothes that doesn’t exploit workers (many garment workers are immigrant female home workers so they are particularly vulnerable to exploitation). There should be a similar system for the US, though I don’t know off-hand what it is?

  34. Gertrude Strine

    Fairtrade certification has already been shown to be as good as whichever part of the organisation polices it; not exactly consistent.
    I never met a patriarchal organisation that I could trust.

    Capital can’t function without exploitation.
    You’re stuck. As the host posits.

  35. buttercup

    hessnatur.com is lovely as long as you don’t wear over a size 10/12. Not surprisingly. And you can afford their prices.

  36. amrit

    buttercup: No kidding about the prices. Every once in awhile I feel the urge to buy something new, something retail, maybe something made from organic fibers. Then I check out the prices, and I run back to the thrift stores. I’d rather give away the money to someone that needs it or donate it to a local shelter for women. I can buy jeans, ones that will likely not produce camel-toe, (as the ones below at hessnatur clearly will), for about six dollars at my local thrift store.

    http://us.hessnatur.com/shop/productdetail.action?modelCode=33298&pos=10&advertiser=N0S%7CN0X%7CN0U

  37. tinfoil hattie

    hessnatur.com is lovely as long as you don’t wear over a size 10/12.

    If I really cared about the world and the environment and oppressed factory workers and hungry children, I wouldn’t be fat! Shame on me!

  38. nails

    Thriftstores are a good idea, totally. There are enough clothes to last people a damn long time without making any new ones.

  39. Citizen Jane

    I really don’t think the answer is to not buy things. If you are privileged enough that you have money to spare, then you are doing more harm than good letting it just sit in a savings account forever. Besides, poor people need the supply from thrift stores. I don’t want to go and grab all the good stuff from the thrift stores when I can afford to buy things at full price.

    What privileged folks need to figure out is not how to quit spending money, but how to redirect the money into the right places. I’m pretty lost on that though. I can buy from small businesses over the internet, and I can take Nadiah’s advice to find fair trade certified stuff, but that’s only a start.

    There must be tons of farmers and crafters out there trying to make a living for themselves and all they need is for us privileged folks to start buying their stuff. But how do we find them exactly?

  40. otoc

    So I acknowledged that hessnatur was not in everyone’s price range. And I acknowledged that it is not the ultimate perfect solution for every human being in different situations with different considerations. I’m not sure what else a person is supposed to do except never strive for anything better and just accept and then complain about how bad things are. They do have size 14/16 which is better than many of the other eco and fair clothing brands that only go up to a size 8, and in fact, they’re less pricey than many of those brands (loomstate for example). But it is imperfect. Cest la vie.

  41. Hattie

    Really hard-hitting, Twisty. We could not consume the way we do if we really cared about others and understood the way they have to live to supply us with our crap.

  42. Jill

    “I can buy jeans, ones that will likely not produce camel-toe”

    But camel-toe is hot!!!

  43. Hattie

    Oh, and Last Train Home is available on POV website free for streaming.

  44. nails

    “I really don’t think the answer is to not buy things. If you are privileged enough that you have money to spare, then you are doing more harm than good letting it just sit in a savings account forever.”

    It depends where your savings account is. If it is in a credit union then the money doesn’t just “sit around”- it gets invested in your community. The interest comes from investment. Most credit unions will let you have a vote in how they do shit if you have enough of your money sitting around in them. You can also send direct monetary support to causes that support people in poverty and do more than create sweat shop jobs. Micro-credit loans are one way to contribute to economies that do not rely on outside interests to stay afloat.

    A big reason why so many people are exploited is the financialization of the US economy over the past thirty years. A side effect of it is that corporations can pull their investment out of a region if there is unrest, like attempts at unionization. Participating in the occupy wallstreet marches (by giving money, participating in local rallies, or the one in NY if you are close) are things that can be done. There are a lot of things that can be done. Buying more than what you need when there are better ways to get your money to someone in need seems absurd to me.

  45. Barn Owl

    Air and water quality in many Chinese cities and communities is also quite bad, due to pollution from manufacturing and energy generation. A middle-aged Chinese colleague told me that many of his friends back home have died, or are dying, from cancer and other diseases that are likely caused or exacerbated by environmental toxins.

    Sewing clothes myself seemed like an option, but as mentioned earlier, much of the fabric is produced under exploitative circumstances. Ditto much of the yarn available for knitting or crocheting clothing items. IBTP. Though between my mom and my sister, there is a fabric stash large enough to clothe the entire family for many years. I don’t give a feral hog’s tailpipe about being stylish, so maybe I should drag out the old sewing machine.

    Just received a few items purchased from Maggie’s Organics (also Fair Trade); the prices are more reasonable than those of hessnatur, though the selection isn’t extensive. I can vouch that the sizes run true.

  46. tinfoil hattie

    otoc, I did not intend to aim my snark at you, but at hessnatur. I am sorry if it semed otherwise. I sorta derailed into my personal pet peeve about how fatties destroy the world by existing. Sorry!

  47. Nadiah

    @Citizen Jane, who wrote: “There must be tons of farmers and crafters out there trying to make a living for themselves and all they need is for us privileged folks to start buying their stuff. But how do we find them exactly?”

    That’s one of the challenges, small producers of e.g. handcrafts in Nepal are often a women working from home to supplement their income. They can’t find customers alone because of language barriers, an inability to meet order sizes, etc. One solution is to create not-for-profit organisations to coordinate between Western markets and the individual producers. For example, there is a WFTO organisation in Nepal named Sana Hastakala who, amongst other things, approaches Western retailers like myself using an English-speaker, finds out what kinds of things I think I can sell for them, and organises the individual producers to make those things and shipping for them.

  48. tinfoil hattie

    PS I am always suspicious of shit that is popular with dudebro hipsters, and lemme tell ya, the LOVE their Kleen Kanteens.

  49. tinfoil hattie

    *they*

  50. Nadiah

    “Fairtrade certification has already been shown to be as good as whichever part of the organisation polices it; not exactly consistent.”

    Perfect is the enemy of good enough, something is better than nothing.

  51. Roving Thundercloud

    Newspaper biz section headline today: Nike opening new facility in Shanghai.

    Sigh.

  52. Frumious B.

    Nuclear missiles are made in the good old USofA by extremely privileged workers.

    The answer is policy change, and the way to get there is to become one of the policy makers.

    Or just say fuck it and get a job making missiles. It pays really well if you can handle the Minnesota winters.

  53. Jamila

    I saw the documentary Last Train Home some time ago and thought it was a good flick. Isn’t it nice to know that existential teen angst bubbles to the surface all over the globe?

  54. FrostieMitre

    I put a couple of these insulated bottles on my Christmas list. Thank you.

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