Wednesday 5 June 2019

Book Review: A Harvest of Thorns

What an amazing novel. IT's all about how the clothing industry works in this day and age. It is shocking.

It weaves in the truth of the current economy. It's all about market share and outsourcing, paying cheap labour costs in order to maximize profits. CEOs are paid to build a business. Stakeholders all want money from dividends. Consumers are deceived into buying cheap goods from stores like Cheap-Mart, based on paying people in foreign countries a paltry sum to create cheap items.

Sure, we could buy $8 t-shirts, made in factories where they have no rights, and earn 8 cents a day. We should not, however. The moral of the story is to be aware of where you clothes are made, and that you are sourcing ethical manufacturers.

The plot is based on this horrific fire. The summary is below. Employees were locked in, with grates over the windows, and many perished.

Bangladeshi Factory Owners Charged in Fire That Killed 112

The fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory on Nov. 24, 2012, was later eclipsed by a building collapse in April that cost the lives of 1,100 workers and brought global attention to the unsafe working conditions and low wages at many garment factories in Bangladesh, the No. 2 exporter of apparel after China. The fire also revealed the poor controls that top retailers had throughout their supply chain, since retailers like Walmart said they were unaware that their apparel was being made in such factories.


Joe Fresh continuing garment business in Bangladesh in year after ...
Parent company Loblaw is providing compensation to victims of Rana Plaza collapse. ... The eight-storey Rana Plaza collapsed last April killing 1,135 Bangladeshi garment workers and injuring 2,500 more. Some of those workers were making clothes for Joe Fresh, and its brand-name pants were found in the rubble.  Apr 11, 2014

Shopper's Drug Mart 

 Loblaw owns Shoppers Drug Mart, and the head of Loblaws is Galen Weston Jr., a public opponent of the $15 minimum wage and 2nd richest person in Canada.
(Photographed at a Brandon, Manitoba Shoppers near Brandon's major hospital.)
An example of how Shoppers Drug Mart 
is ordering cashiers to take customers to self check-outs.

Here are ways to learn more, mentioned in the book's appendix.

Fashion Transparency Index - Fashion Revolution

We believe transparency is the first step to transform the industry. And it starts with one simple question: Who made my clothes?
  • We need people thinking differently about what they wear. 
  • We need to know that our questions, our voices, and our shopping habits can have the power to help change things for the better. 

The True Cost movie

Print a poster You can download and print these posters to use with your selfie, when asking brands/retailers #whomademyclothes? Download a spreadsheet with the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram names of all the major brands.

When North American factories shutter, we end up with cheap goods and materials, such a cost.

Magna is shutting down an Ontario plant, throwing hundreds out of work. What happens when a town loses its largest employer?

We know that 40% of Perth residents are retirees, but for those who toil, they need the income.

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@Barrie Summy


eileeninmd said...

Thanks for the review. My hubby would like this book.

Wishing you a happy day!

Barrie said...

What a thought-provoking review and novel. Thank you for all the extra links and info.

Barrie said...

Just wanted to add a thank you for all the work you put into this post, Jenn!

Phyllis Wheeler said...

A very good reminder of our thoughtlessness!!!

William Kendall said...

Humanity is all too thoughtless.

Sarah Laurence said...

Thanks for bringing this issue to our attention. My friend Safia Minney has been working to make and promote fair trade clothing. She was the cofounder of People Tree in Japan and the UK, which profit shares with the women producers in developing countries. I wish we had more fair trade options in the USA. I try to buy locally produced garments, although it's often more expensive, and avoid those big box stores. I always check labels and steer clear of suspiciously cheap clothing. When my husband teaches Political Economy to college students, he has them check the made in... labels of their fellow students as an opening exercise.

Powell River Books said...

You always read books of such substance. It was just announced that Sobey's is going to close our local Safeway store and replace it with a FreshCo come November. If I understand the new store format it will change from an upscale grocery store with quality produce and a good selection of goods to a discount grocery store with lower quality and cheaper prices. We have three other major grocery stores for our small town of about 10,000 residents (including the surrounding regional district). All three pride themselves for sourcing from BC when possible. One is family owned and sources much from local producers. Time will tell if cheap will win out when so many people are having a hard time making ends meet. I will continue to shop at Quality Foods and Save-on-Foods which used to be Overwaite. - Margy

Linda McLaughlin said...

Brainlessly rich about sums it up. No brains. no heart, no soul. That's big business these days. Zombie corporations.

What an important book. Thanks for drawing our attention to the problem, Jen.