Whenever we shop, we’re buying things made by people. Some of those people are treated well in the course of making our things; others are treated very badly. The more people who buy things made by people with good jobs, the more good jobs there’ll be.
How we buy creates the world in which our global neighbours live.
How can we buy things in a way that helps the poorest people in the world flourish? At Just Kai, we think the most helpful choices are:
- Preferentially buy things produced in low income countries. People in places like New Zealand have lots of job opportunities but people in places like Bangladesh have very few. If something we need is available from both rich and Majority World countries, we recommend buying the one produced in a Majority World country in order to give the job to the person most likely to be left destitute otherwise.
- Buy things produced under the best labour conditions available - even if they’re bad. Many things produced in low-income countries are produced in terrible conditions. If possible, you should be looking to buy things that are produced under good labour conditions, and where that has been independently verified. But if you can’t find anything like that, then we think it’s better to buy an item that was produced in a low-income country (rather than New Zealand) - even if it’s likely it was produced under poor conditions. The reason for this is simple. The workers who produced that item under poor conditions, have chosen to work in those conditions because that’s their best alternative. If we take that option away from them (by refusing to buy those products and driving their employer out of business), they will have to choose an even worse option. In taking this position we have been strongly influenced by the testimony of these garment workers and research into experiences of sweat shop workers.
- Do not buy things produced by child or forced labour. The exception to point 2 is where the workers have not freely chosen their situation. Then their situation is not necessarily the best that is available to them - and, likely, they are not receiving any significant benefit for their labour. If the only option you have for purchasing a product from a Marjority World country is to buy something likely produced using slave labour or child labour, in those cases we think the best option is to buy something produced in a wealthy country instead. But, in the case of the products we mostly look at for Just Kai, that’s generally not an option. After all, no Kiwi chocolate company has a cocoa plantation out the back of their factory, prawn dumplings made in New Zealand are still made with imported prawns etc.