Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa's workshop

Apparently this video is a bit on the old side but the principles still remain. PLEASE don't shop at Wal-mart, people! I have great-nieces and great-nephews and I make a point of buying hand made toys that I order from individual shops on Etsy. In many cases they are not any more expensive than the cheap stuff you get from China.

"Sometimes we have no choice, we work till dawn. When you work all night you become dizzy and your eyes hurt because you can't take any breaks."

SANTA'S WORKSHOP takes you to the real world of China's toy factories. Workers tell us about long working hours, low wages, and dangerous work places. Those who protest or try to organize trade unions risk imprisonment. Low labor costs attract more and more companies to China. Today more than 75% of our toys are made in China. But this industry takes its toll on the workers and on the environment.

The European (and American) buyers blame bad conditions on the Chinese suppliers. But they say that increasingly hard competition gives them no option. Who should we believe? And what can you do to bring about a fairer and more humane toy trade?


  1. Anonymous1:34 PM

    Oh dear. I don't buy toys, admittedly, but sometimes I do shop at Wal-Mart for clothing or the odd household items or even groceries because it's what we can afford.

    This is similar to a friend of mine who is very into the ethical eating thing. She's a vegetarian, and she shops at co-ops a lot, and would like to see more people eat that way, but again - if I can get a frozen meal for 88 cents, and that's what we can afford, that's what we're going to eat.


  2. I really get it, Tracie. And each person must decide individually what he or she can and cannot do in the effort to promote social and economic justice.

    Heck. I just got home from Petsmart a little while ago because we were low on cat food, pet grass and kitty litter. I ended up getting a new dog bed for sweet Tara because it was on sale and I liked the looks of it (and her old one was worn out). Well, I got home only to discover that it had been made in China. I didn't even think to look at the tag before I bought it.

    None of us can adhere to any particular ideal way of doing this. I just know that every little bit makes a difference and so I try to be mindful (even though I fail at times) and encourage others to do what they can.

  3. Awareness first of all ... then mindful action. It's not an easy thing to be an ethical person and to make a decision based on all the factors we know about ... My first impulse, when seeing this post and the video, was 'BOYCOT!!' -- Then I took a breath ... and my next thought was for the people who do this work.

    Ellie, your honesty gives a light to whatever you're thinking and writing about. There are no easy answers ... and I've come to think about these matters in small, accessible terms: one person at a time. In the still shot of the video --> I see the woman in the foreground and I try to place myself into her skin, into her experience. What is her life like? ... What is going on in her workplace that she and her fellow workers wear masks? How might she be feeling as she does what she has to ... and for how many hours? Who does she live with ... Who are her dependents? What would happen to her if she lost her job? What does she long to do with her life?

    Certainly China's economy won't tank if teddy bears go out of production ... and individual people who must work under excessively stressful directives certainly *will* 'tank' in one way or another when circumstances are overwhelming (whether they be unemployment or grinding employment ... poverty caused by unemployment or underemployment, etc.) ...

    I recall that certain illnesses were dubbed 'consumptive' around a century ago ... Here, again, is a disease of consumption ... Consumption of the rapaciously greedy kind. One suffers the toil ... another profits from it.


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