Is fast throw away consumerism to blame for the migrant crisis that happened in India last week?
This time that we are all in is starting to bring up questions that should have been spoke about a long time ago. Shining a light on how interconnected we really are, and showing the delicate nature of which our lives, our health and the economy is built upon. My calendar just popped up to tell me I was meant to be in Jaipur tomorrow, and it’s made me compelled to think about how different things will be next time I am there.
Finally things have slowed down across the whole world.. but what is life going to be like when things start moving again? whenever that may be. Are we all as people going to support changes which would not leave us in such a vulnerable state that we are currently in?
I always wish for many things to travel back in time. I worry constantly about the state of our planet, and the people and animals on it. And I feel scared because I do not know the answer. I think the UK needs to become more self sufficient again for sure, but then that leaves me questioning my business, & I know we support many peoples livelihoods across the globe and always try to do to run our business as kindly and cleanly as possible.
What has happened in India in the last 2 weeks really was unthinkable, a potentially huge disaster waiting to happen, but it’s only situations like that that make you see the sheer scale of how oddly functioning our entire world is now, all in the name of money and consumerism (which are very much a similar thing).
The half a million migrant workers that last week fled to their villages were all working hundreds of kilometres away from their homes, away from their spouses, children and families, all to earn money. Why have things moved so far from how things used to be, where people would live off the land, trade and barter, make necessities using skills that were passed down through generations and trade them. This is still something we as a company very much support, we work with a lot of cottage industry which now more than ever I definitely want to focus on. But I’m talking about things much larger than within our tiny Ian Snow supply chain.
Why have things become so unbalanced? Speaking yesterday to a dear friend and owner of a paper company in Jaipur that we work with, he has been experiencing the same thoughts as me, and has decided that this must be the time for change. He started his business about 20 years ago and has grew it slowly and organically since then, he is a true pioneer in using sustainable and recycled materials. He used to work predominantly on a cottage industry basis and now wants to go back to that, the only reason he had to move away from it was to fulfil the requirements and compliances of major brands here in the UK and the US… those same brands which are in the news this week because they are not going to be paying any of their suppliers abroad.
They wanted cheap prices, prices that could not be achieved by doing work purely by hand, prices that required big machines, big factories and for many workers to work, like machines. I know full well that many other industries have been required to change their practises to fulfil the requirements of these huge brands, to churn out goods on the scale which they require. But who’s supported all of that?
I strongly believe we vote with our wallets, so in a backwards way, I am indeed saying that the support of these massive brands, the support of fast fashion, cheap throw away goods has added the fuel to the fire that could very petrifyingly ignite any time now due to last weeks events in India.
WHAT IS THE ANSWER? We sadly are currently a minority of people who give a shit. The brands are not going to stop providing these cheap throw away goods until people stop buying them, but people are not going to stop buying them until they are not available. Who is responsible for this change?! And if these brands were to disappear off the face of the earth tomorrow, what would happen to all the workers in their gigantic supply chains.
Products need to be priced to reflect their TRUE COST, with workers based in the area they call HOME - if that means smaller production units then that is what needs to happen, this could then open up the chance for each country to become more self sufficient, rather than the global trade that we have become reliant on due to the wage difference between east and west.