Be aware. Be very aware.


In November 2012, a fire ripped through the Tazreen garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing 110 people. It was, in fact, just one of a string of such fires the country’s garment industry suffered last year, and it was a high-profile reminder to all of us that workers’ rights and safety are fragile things in many parts of the world.

Consumers are thinking more about that part of the manufacturing process — the part that involves human workers and their hands and skill and health — as well as thinking about the end of that process when they purchase goods. Just as the tragedy of the Tazreen factory was a hideous object lesson in the importance of our safety as workers, we’re correspondingly reminded by shows like CBC’s Marketplace of how we can be put at more subtle peril as consumers. That show has exposed things like the misleading labels that manufacturers often affix to consumer goods, and reminds us of the need to be informed, cautious, and sometimes downright sceptical when we do business. Fairware understands that scepticism — because that’s the way we shop, and that’s what we have in mind when we source the goods we sell. Responsibility begins at home, and at our office.

Increasing consumer campaigns for workers’ rights, and against the use of unsafe substances in consumer products, are raising awareness among consumers, and among the brands in the promo industry that are Fairware’s customers. Videos like the one you see above are just one way in which people are calling out companies that think they can dodge their responsibilities when it comes to health and safety. Demands for greater supply-chain transparency and fewer toxins in the manufacturing process will have a trickle-down effect on our industry overall, and on what we’re able to do. We think 2013 will be a year of real improvement.

And we like that.

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