The retail store Lush promised that all London employees would be paid a livable wage. In the article explaining why, the founder talked about how employees were working 40 hour work weeks and then taking other jobs on the side to survive. But the part of the article I like most is this quote:
He added: “I had given [£50,000] to the Dispossessed Fund because I care
about levelling the playing field in London, but I had to admit that the money
I’d donated had, in reality, come out of the pockets of my employees.”
I like this quote. The founder could have thought “I’m giving them a huge bonus out of my own pocket” but instead he recognized that they have been giving him money out of theirs.
I feel the same way about buying fair trade or ethically produced products. They cost more. I could look at it as me spending more than I need – me giving them something, but instead I try to look at it is me not expecting others to give me things. If it means I can’t afford to buy as much, that’s fine. Why should the pickers of produce have to live with unlivable wages so that produce can take up less of my family’s income?
Should I consider my family’s real income to be that which we can buy cheapest or that which we can buy ethically?