Alternative Apparel – a social overview of consumption

By Rachel Barr

Through substantive research on what is working well and not well in regards to fair trade on campuses, I have delved into the ministries junction at Point Loma Nazarene University. The university’s ministry team purchases roughly 900 Alternative Apparel t-shirts each fiscal year (ASB Director of Finance, Nick Ezre), and handed out for free to the students involved. Ironically, these t-shirts have been worn internationally in similar countries to where the materials derive from.
Alternative Apparel claims to give their workers fair working conditions and to pay them the floor price, which is usually the country’s average wages. These wages are certainly worth far less than the value retailers put on the price tag. Point Loma Nazarene University is most likely not aware of this situation. Why would they be? America consumes far more each day than they are aware of. Attending a private university such as Point Loma Nazarene, one can note the overabundance most students are equipped with including the latest technologies, newest trends and coolest styles in attire. To expand, the average income in Asian countries are listed below. According at a wage tracker for Asian countries, Bangladesh garment workers have an average income of $38 per month, and that’s working 40 hours per week.

Minimum Wage Levels in Asia

The facts are shocking especially because the products we consume in America are valued at much higher prices, which do not benefit the laborer, only the distributors. In the society of college universities, we’ve put a value on what we consume and especially what we wear. What we fail to realize is the price usually is a result of the expense of human lives; people working in horrible conditions for hardly any compensation, for something like a mere t-shirt. If Point Loma Nazarene University were aware of these conditions of agonizingly low wages that companies like Alternative Apparel pay in exchange for these materials, then they would probably think twice before sending in their next order.

The article, Challenges to globalization: Analyzing the economics, assesses the wages and living conditions resulting from the effects of multinational production. Researchers have worked to determine the effects of multinational firms, and whether or not the working conditions and wages are standard or exploited. Alternative Apparel works with developing countries at their country’s rates. This is exploitation to the workers because they are paid so low, and the turnover of profits received by Alternative Apparel in exchange for these goods is very high, and continues to grow. If Point Loma Nazarene University does not care enough to switch to purchasing a different brand, they should consider raising awareness for fair wages in developing countries, especially from whom the materials come from.

Alternative Apparel – a social overview of consumption

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