Sunday, October 28, 2007

a different solution for the gap

So, I read this morning on the BBC web site that Gap Inc. recently discovered that one of the items being sold at their Gap Kids stores in the U.S. and the UK was made by child slaves in India. As a result, they are pulling the item from stores and destroying all of the stock.

Of the kids who made the item, who were interviewed by the UK's Guardian newspaper as part of the investigation, one said that he had been sold by their parents to the factory owner four months ago to pay off a debt and another said that he had been beaten because he was apparently not working hard enough.

Horrific stuff.

Maybe I am missing something, but my very first reaction when I heard that they were going to destroy all of the items was this: they went through all of that to make those damn things and they're just going to be destroyed? Why not, instead, sell all of them and give every last dime of the worldwide sales (not just profit, but the entire purchase cost) to the kids who made them and to other programs in India that aim to improve the lives of children in poverty?

Set up a special display in the store, distribute information about the existence of slave child labor to educate customers and include information about the Gap's commitment to not working with suppliers who use child labor.

The things would sell out (I would buy them -- wouldn't you?). The material and effort that went into making them would not be wasted. More people would be educated about the existence of slave child labor and think harder about the next time they purchased an item of clothing. The company would communicate its commitment to the cause. And, most importantly, the kids' lives would change considerably.

Tell me if I am missing something. Am I overly simplifying this? Have they not already paid the vendor? That's a possibility. Would it be too prohibitively expensive to pay another vendor to produce the same item and then still do what I am suggesting? Could they then just donate the profits? I'm not suggesting they don't also conduct an investigation, change policies and seek out ways to ensure this does not happen again, but is there an opportunity for a little awareness -- and money -- raising in the middle of this fiasco?


Richard Kamins said...

Your reaction is right on target. They could have chosen to educate and illuminate but instead chose to destroy and sweep under the carpet, letting the world go on quickly to its next disturbance.

abf said...

Thanks for coming by, Richard. There is hope. See my post from today (11/4) -- including suggestions for how they could take it further.