I’m in the market for a new pair of tennis shoes. My current pair of all-purpose shoes aren’t sneakers, and they don’t go that well with shorts. So for shorts weather, sneakers are required.
Normally my choice here would be Chuck Taylors. But the purchase of Converse by Nike causes a lot of problems. Nike doesn’t have a great track record as a corporation. Its name is practically synonymous with “sweatshop labor”, and its attempts to paint a happy face on its practices haven’t impressed people concerned with workers’ rights.
Unfortunately, with most products sold in America (particularly clothes) you can pretty much assume you’re dealing with sweatshop labor unless told otherwise. And even if told otherwise, you’re still probably dealing with it, as many corporations hide their crimes behind various facades, most usually the standard “Well, we contract only to third-world employers who assure us that everything’s on the up-and-up!” The usual way to find out if something is produced with sweatshop labor is to look at the cost. Is it pretty cheap? There’s a reason! Anyone remember when Wal-Mart’s claim was that as many of its goods as possible were made in the USA? You don’t see that anymore because the US –thanks to progressives — has fair labor laws (or at least fairer labor laws.) Even American-made goods don’t offer any assurance, because we have our own American sweatshops.
So it’s easy to find the bad guys. How does one find the good guys? Especially if one doesn’t want to penetrate a wall of legalese, doublespeak, or just plain lies?
You go to the people who are interested in stopping sweatshop labor.
First there’s AdBusters. This organization has a long history of fighting corporate wrongdoing and excess, and specifically sought out to make a better, fairer shoe. Thus, the Blackspot. I’d heard of these before, so this was the first place I looked. I’ve heard good things about these shoes regarding how comfortable and durable they are. But ouch, $80 a pair! That’s a bit more than I was looking to spend, since I wouldn’t be wearing them 365 days a year. I’m not sure I need the full-on organic hemp experience.
My next stop was No Sweat. This is another organization looking to improve workers’ rights globally. They’ve got all kinds of fair labor clothing to choose from, and sure enough, plenty of shoes. The simple black low-top sneaker is just what I was looking for, and I’ve already put in my order.
My point here is, it’s super-easy to be part of the problem. But it’s not that much harder to do a small thing that helps address it. People will allatime do tons of research online to find the best price for something, but will balk at the idea of doing similar research to find one that’s responsibly made. In a matter of minutes I found exactly what I wanted, at a price that wasn’t out of line, assembled fairly. It’s such a small thing, but if enough people do it, it can make a big difference.