Have you heard of the 2 euro T-shirt?
Feels good right? Yes, that’s right. By essentially boycotting the T-shirt, we’re decreasing demand, and therefore forcing change on the suppliers. High five!
Except this is no longer the case.
In this insightful article by a human rights consultant for HuffPost, we learn that boycotting no longer has the measure of influence that it used to have in unregulated and illegal sweatshops from development countries. In fact, Western consumers no longer make up the majority of demand, while the supply chain is no longer between just companies and suppliers – middlemen have stepped in between input and output, strategizing production and delivering products without companies even knowing who made what where.
It’s not a secret that as a world, we’ve gone past the point of overconsumption and overproduction. We’ve tried one method (boycotts) to mitigate their consequences, and it worked… for a time. Until it didn’t.
As the article has explored through the case study of Brazil, there is a way to start fixing what has gone terribly wrong in the market of production. It’ll take a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of truly sincere people applying the best of their creativity and problem-solving to tame this beast… but Brazil has shown us that when we attack the supply chain at strategic pressure points, there will be change. So what are we waiting for?
As an average consumer, we may not have the resources to directly influence change… but as citizens, not only can we make impact by continuing to budget, adjust, and honestly manage our consumer habits to slowly change the culture of consumption, but armed with this new insight into the industry, we can also flex our civic muscles and lobby our interests to the influencers directly involved in the supply chain. To tackle an issue this ugly, the two have to work hand in hand. It isn’t comfortable, and it won’t be a quick fix, but change to improve human quality of life is one that is always worth struggling for.