Photo by McKay Savage
When I was in high-school I learned the very basics of economics and one of the things I recall learning was the theory of Supply and Demand. In very basic terms, the Law of Demand states that when the price of a good increases, the demand for the good falls. In addition, the Law of Supply states that when the the price of a good increases, the more suppliers willing to supply the good.
Nearly 14 years later, the basics of this theory still ring true for me. When I look at the caged eggs in the supermarket and they are selling a dozen for $2.00 and then the free range eggs for $5.50, I know that it relates to this theory of supply and demand. I will buy the free range eggs because I like to know that the eggs I’ve purchased have come from chickens that were treated more humanely. But I know that price is a major factor and that for people who are struggling to keep afloat, they couldn’t care less about the chickens.
I have also walked into fashion stores that supply cheap clothing and I see so many women at the counter purchasing $5.00 T-shirts, $15.00 dresses and $10.00 pair of shoes. I know that price is a key factor for them and they couldn’t care less how the item ended up there, they just care that they are getting a ‘bargain.’ I used to think this way too once upon a time, until I went to South East Asia when I was 19 years old and I was surrounded by relatives who worked extremely hard for a days wage that was comparable to the amount of money I made in an hour.
The more I reflect on the power of price, the more I see the link between cheap price, cheap labour and cheap means of production. I’ve learnt now that ‘cheap’ doesn’t mean quality and it sure doesn’t mean ‘ethically’ produced which is why I am very conscious when I see something priced so low. There are those who don’t care for caged eggs and will continue to purchase them due to price, however I encourage those people who do prefer free range but don’t purchase them due to price to perhaps start thinking outside the box and get in touch with their principles. Why not build your own chicken coop? You can put one together with basic wood and chicken wire or purchase one for as cheaply as $50.00. Then you know where your eggs have come from and I’m sure you would have treated them better than the farmers who place six chickens in a cramped cage.
Now on to overcoming cheap fashion. Bargains are hard to resist. However, as a fashion-lover, I am not only interested in price but the production process as well. I often read the inside tag of a garment to read the washing instructions. Once I became ethically conscious, I cultivated a habit of reading the fabrics that were used and where the garment was made. So for those of you who are like me and care not only about price but are true fashionistas who care about the production of their clothing, than I encourage you to start looking at garment tags to help get informed in their decision-making process.
In summary, if you see a cheap fashion item, question whether the workers rights were protected and that they received a fair pay for their labour. Oxfam is a great not-for-profit organisation that I support that gives you an idea of companies that have yet to bring their processes up to fair and reasonable standards. In addition, if you see fabrics like rayon, poly
nylon, you know these are man-made fabrics and essentially not as good for the Earth due to the amount of pesticides and chemicals used in production. So if you still want to be a fashionista, at least be a more informed one 🙂