Survival of the cheapest

Sale here, discounts there, consumers in developed countries plunge onto brands like Primark and Walmart in search of the cheapest garment clothes they can get. With a true ignorance for quality, it seems like the cheaper is always the better when it comes to their shopping options. Even worse, `shop till you drop´ attitudes have become the norm and now that less cash is in their pockets, bargains are the means to their consumptive gratification. Wrapped in this logic, they are unaware about how this consumer behavior undoubtedly maintains an exploitative industry.

It is vital for any objective that proposes to improve conditions of workers to attend matters of consumers. Without flourishing consumptive awareness, organizations and alliances can be organized but little actual change will be seen. In the same light, global labour `rights´ have existed since the ILO’s Philadelphia Declaration of 1944 and they are stated very clearly. However, the existence of rights does not directly imply that they will be enforced. This is where dealing with consumers consumption habits and awareness can have a powerful effect. More than ever is it effective to build an ideational front against exploitation, based on the will of the ethical consumer.

Why go ethical? Because competition should not be based upon low labour costs that have social repercussions. Put differently, one can come to grips with the global economy as following the competition of the most exploitative. The term competition is by its very name ambiguous and plays with the scientific logic of natural selection as if markets would work the same. Markets may be competitive indeed, but the logical competition that comes at the forefront of ones mind is based on quality, sustainability, or originality. This concrete understanding of competitiveness is what ultimately will need our global economy onto a sustainable route.

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