I am heartsick over the recent news of the factory fire in Bangladesh. The death toll as of right now is 112. The factory appears to have been making clothes for Wal-Mart, along with other stores across Europe. I know that it's not as simple as pointing fingers at Wal-Mart and saying they are to blame for this. Faulty wiring seems to be the culprit as well as non-working fire extinguishers. However, wouldn't it be safe to say that if one of the largest companies in the United States were to insist on safer standards in the factories that they contract work out of, that perhaps some changes would be made? Or at the very least, keep closer tabs on the factories that they have clothes coming out of?
Recently we learned that the company that manufactures our skateboards (for our non-profit) has been outsourcing work to China. After some quick phone calls we finally received the verdict that they really had no idea what the working conditions there are. We are a very small non-profit, there is no way that we can afford to fly overseas and check conditions on our own. It was because of that and the uncertainty of our manufacturer that we decided to find a new supplier for our decks. We were able to find one here in the USA, using sustainable harvesting methods for the wood. We are relieved to have found such a great option. The idea of placing a skateboard in the hands of a kid that was made at the expense of someone else was sickening. It was impossible. We had to make a change.
And that's just it. I know we are chump change in comparison to Wal-Mart. Really, there is no comparison. Our livelihood does not depend on the sale of our boards. We actually make no money from it at all. But at the end of the day someone's livelihood (and in some cases, someone's life) does depend on every object that is created somewhere in this world.
Lately, as time has been harder to come by, I haven't been as choosey in my purchasing. But this tragedy in Bangladesh has been a reminder that I do have a voice and I have a responsibility. How I choose affects someone's life. I hope to affect it for the better.
My heart goes out to all of those that have been affected in this fire. The friends and the families of the victims are in my prayers.