Now that the semester is over, I have a little time to contemplate what is happening with the products I offer in the side widgets. I thought I might be adding some more products and some more slogans, but now it looks like I might be spending the short break before summer session deleting products that I’m currently offering through CafePress.com.
When I first started blogging, first at MySpace, then at Blogger, I decided all the products I offered would be sweatshop free. Having lived abroad, I have seen firsthand the difference that scrutiny–whether from sponsors abroad or from members of the royal family–can make in the lives of the ordinary people. A good part of what I blog about is the developing Arab world. I want this blog to be part of the solution for finding a world that is fair, a world where children can go to school instead of working, a world where everyone has a chance at a future, a world where people have choices about their lives and their work. This kind of economically fair and interconnected world would be much less likely to go to war.
It wouldn’t make much sense for me to talk about economic development then turn around and act like profits are more important than people. Surely both are possible. Fair tade coffee experienced a 75% growth last year alone. Awareness about fair trade alternatives has been stronger in Europe, but American awareness–and the market for fairly traded items–is likely to grow.
So then, what about CafePress? Why delete shirts? CafePress has decided to discontinue their American Apparel “Baby Doll” style shirt, and in its place, substitute something called a “Junior Jersey Tee.” Neither this shirt or their new maternity shirt is made by American Apparel, a company well known for its fair labor practices. But who makes the shirts, and under what conditions?
Unlike some other internet fulfillment companies, the CafePress website does not provide product information–at least none that I can find. Not in the general information areas and not in the community forums. So how do I know the products I offer here are sweatshop free? Most, no, all of my information about their products comes from the folks at Irregulartimes.com, who have done a lot of research into products, fair labor practices, and fair trade. Chicago Fair Trade also has an interesting piece about clothing fairness issues.
Be assured that I will continue to offer only fairly manufactured items. I will be attempting to correspond with the CafePress product information people to try to find out something about these new products. If I can’t determine that they are sweat free, I’ll be removing the “Junior Jersey Tee” from my offerings.