Friday, 19 March 2010

On the case of Etsy.

I have once heralded the wonders of Etsy, but I feel an urge to talk about it and the principles behind it once again.

It's true that the prices of the products sold in Etsy may seem a little dearer, but in actual fact, it's the price we would all pay for products if it weren't for big corporations and their dodgy practices.

Why are the prices low for products?

1. Mass production - it's the same premise as when you buy things in bulk. The more you buy, the cheaper it gets. The more you produce/can sell, the cheaper it is. The downside of this is that everyone ends up looking like clones of everyone else because there are so many of the same things out there.

2. Sweatshop labour - I'm not saying that all corporations adhere to this, but more often than not, products are cheap because labour is cheap. How do you get labour to be cheap? Easy. Ensure people don't get paid minimum wage so they can barely make ends meet with what they're earning. Make them work long hours without breaks (even toilet ones) and remove whatever benefits they have. In some rare cases, employ children. Do we want to be responsible for the suffering of another human being?

These are the two main reasons why I try to avoid purchasing things on a whim. It may seem pretty, it may seem nice, it may seem cheap, but really, what kind of other prices are you paying in order to satisfy a short-term desire?

What can we do about this?

1. Cut down buying - do you really have to have something?

2. Go op-shopping/buy secondhand - I'd be the first to admit it's not easy. I've been looking for a pair of lightweight travel/casual trousers for a while now and have not had much success. But when you do find something, remember that you're helping to reduce your impact on the world because you've bought something that would have otherwise gone into the bin. And there are success stories. I've also bought numerous other great stuff at a fraction of their price.

3. Support handmade - and this is where Etsy comes in. Etsy supports people who do not mass-produce, people who do not have sweatshop labour practices. The people who sell the products are the people who make it themselves. Best of all, the products are either unique or are produced in a very small quantity, which means you will never run the risk of bumping into someone with the exact same thing as you.

4. Make it yourself - it takes time and I know not many people are into this. But believe me when I say there is great satisfaction in producing something yourself.

The prices in Etsy are seemingly high only because we have become used to the low prices of a sweatshop economy. In actual fact, Etsy prices are fair because they actually help people earn a living, not simply an existence.

And perhaps in conclusion, the question to ask is, "If you can't afford its real price, do you really have to have it?"

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...