From the better late than never deparment: determining sweatshop-free status when shopping

Since I work at home most of time, I listen to the entire NPR lineup when going through all the daily tasks of owning a small business. I was a bit pleasantly surprised when Talk of the Nation dedicated part of its show to discussing how to determine if the item you want to buy as that oh so perfect gift was made in a sweatshop.

Well, good for you NPR, but wasn’t this, coming about a week before people actually exchange presents, a bit too late. And, should people already be aware of where and how their gifts are made?

NPR made this sound like detective work. It isn’t. Someone called up and said that they had the National Green Pages before them, which listed items that were not just ‘green,’ but also sweatshop-free and/or fair trade. You want to know what a stamp of approval from Co-op America looks like? Well, I just so happen to have one right here, on Three Stone Steps’ main landing page. (You need to scroll to the bottom.) Businesses how have fair trade logos, which Three Stone Steps also hopes to get for this year, also have their logo. Anyway, what this all means is that someone cared enough and took the time to submit an application to a panel that judges the merits of ‘fair trade’ thoroughly.

Among the panelists, (I would say taking heads, but this is radio, so I guess it’s talking mouths) was Dana Thomas, who wrote a book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster. I read a review of this book in the NYT book review, and remember it sounding fascinating, yet I don’t reading anything about the conditions under which ‘luxury’ goods are made. Of course, this could just be the reviewer skipping over this point, or my quick read, but I found it interesting that the discussion was more about determining if the Made in America label meant anything, or if something is made in Italy, does it mean its sweatshop free?

So, Three Stone Steps is its own label. No one is going to wear a silk scarf, carry a silk, cotton, or recycled material handbag based on my ‘branding.’ But, I know under what conditions the items I carry are made, and take pride in only buying from the most just and humane producers.

Now, what luxury brand can say that?

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Filed under laptop bags, luxury, NPR, recycled, silk

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