Wednesday, April 12, 2017

MCOM #11: Ninety percent of everything.

A little while ago, I blogged about the Kimberely Process and why I don't want a diamond ring. Strange, right? Well, sometimes when I tell people that, their comeback is this: "you just have to be ok with ethical issues" or "you not buying one diamond ring won't make a difference." I would have to say that I actually somewhat agree. Do I really think that me not getting one ring is going to change the world or the diamond industry? No. Is there a chance that that diamond was mined in an ethical situation? Yes! If I get a morganite/amethyst/sapphire ring, do I think that that stone was mined in a perfectly ethical situation? Most likely no {sadly}.

This gets me to my blog title. Here's the thing. We live in a globalized world. And that makes life a whole lot better for us. That also means that we consume a lot of products that get to us unethically; this may be because of child labor or poor working conditions or a million other things. In my opinion, this means that we need to choose what we feel strongly about and do what we can for that one {or a couple} things. So, I feel strongly about the African diamond industry. Ok, so that's my thing. Unfortunately, there's a really good chance that 99% of the stuff in my closet was also produced in less-than-perfectly-ethical situations. Last summer I read a book by Rose George called Ninety percent of everything. It was a fascinating nonfiction book. The author boards a shipping container ship as it makes its rounds through the ocean. She tells of the day-to-day life of crew members and crew leaders. She speaks of poor conditions, bad food, and dangers from pirates {who, yes, still exist}. Her main point is that, despite what we think, ninety percent of everything gets to us via one of these giant shipping container ships. Shipping containers themselves have revolutionized and enabled globalization.

So my point is this: if I really wanted to make a moral stand and boycott anything and everything that comes to me unethically, I would be in trouble. I would say goodbye to my iphone, my clothes, my school supplies, and basically everything I own. George makes the comment, "Buy your fair-trade coffee beans, by all means, but don't assume fair-trade principles govern the conditions of the men who fetch it to you. You would be mistaken."

So when people tell me that I can't make a difference, that may actually be a little true. I don't hold a large share of market demand for anything {except maybe diet dr. pepper...} so me not purchasing one thing, won't really matter. But I think every person has the moral stipulation to make some sort of a stand. This doesn't mean in everything, but maybe in just one or two things. So I'll probably keep buying my internationally-produced clothes because I don't feel that passionate about it {I mean, I probably should. but not doing so would mean that I need to hand-weave fabric and sew my own clothes. sooo not happening}. But I probably will say no to a diamond ring.

I'm not sure if that even makes sense, but here's the takeaway: everyone should have something to which they are morally opposed to, and you should do what you can to right that. And everyone should read Rose George's book. Also, appreciate this giant ship and please note that every shipping container on it is 48 feet long. you do that math.

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