Do you ever wonder where the t-shirt you are wearing has been made or where the vegetables you buy every day in supermarkets have been cultivated? The answer to this question starts with the definition of the “supply chain”. Supply chain means, generally speaking, all the processes and steps that it takes to produce a product from its creation till its consumption by customers.
Nowadays, due to the process of globalisation, more and more businesses decide to outsource their supply chain and produce in countries where the workforce price is more affordable for world economic competition. As an example, if you check the label of your t-shirt, it will probably say “made in China” or “made in Vietnam” or if you buy vegetables, on its label it will probably say that they are from a country that is different from the origin of the supermarket where you are buying them.
But let’s be more precise – the Zara brand which belongs to INDITEX multinational company will be used as an example. According to international European trade union “industriALL”, one normal t-shirt made in Bangladesh costs less than 10 cents to be produced. This t-shirt will be subsequently sold in any Zara store in the world for 20 euros. Why is there such a massive markup in the final price of the product? Why are workers in these countries receiving no more than 50 euros/month if they are generating so much profit for the company?
This is not an exceptional case. Let’s take another example, do you know how much it costs to produce one Nestlé or Mars chocolate bar and the conditions under which they are produced? To manufacture any chocolate bar, companies needs to get cocoa seeds and the biggest cocoa plantations are located in Africa, specifically in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. According to State Coordinator of Fair Trade in 2014 more than 1.8 million children were working on cocoa cultivations in these countries and furthermore the number of children working in the cocoa industry increased by 51% between 2009 and 2014, according to a June 2015 report from Tulane University.
The relationship between multinational companies and poor working conditions or unsustainable practices is clear and not just limited to a number of isolated cases. So next time you are going to buy a product made or produced in countries where poor labour conditions exist, think twice before doing it. If you care, try to do your research, engage with the employees of these companies and maybe even try to travel to the production facilities.
It is in our hands to contribute towards a sustainable planet and change this “unfair” supply chain that does not produce significant benefit to anyone apart from top managers of multinational companies. Promoting fair trade and sustainable businesses start with us and changing our way of consuming and starting to care about these topics. Support local and ecological commerce, refuse to buy goods from multinational brand companies and promote any environmental or fair trade initiative that contributes towards the sustainability of the world.
Soon everybody will be able to rate those kinds of business with GreenAdvisor mobile-app!
Sustainable development, fair working conditions and environmentally friendly practices are interrelated and interconnected topics that we should promote in order to make a real change to the planet!