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Moral dilemma of a first worlder: Let's talk about the ethics of the goods we buy

By on Feb 22nd

Oh hey! This thread has a great discussion. I've rounded up the highlights here. If you want to weigh in, feel free to comment on this post!

Assembly Line Dance © by jurvetson, used under Creative Commons license.

What with recent events in the news about Foxconn, the Chinese company that produces gadgets for Apple, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and others, I've started to sit down and wonder if I really want to be purchasing products that were made by people living and working in poor conditions.

Going without technology isn't an option for me, as I'm a full-time college student whose teachers submit all their homework online…

But how can I make a protest of these crimes against humanity when it seems like everywhere I turn, another product I use is/was made in a similar situation? -Lolly

Golly, I wish I had an answer for you. For us. It seems like the options are:

  1. Turn our heads and ignore the implications of our tech addiction.
  2. Be conscientious objectors. Buy no tech (because…aside from a company making TVs in Arizona, I can't find a manufacturer working in technology and working in the US.)

My plan has been, simply, to try to curb my consumption. Oh I know: I did my share of philosophy classes. I'm sure there is a parable which explains that If I'm consuming ANY electronics, it's no different from ME, PERSONALLY, causing people around the world to work 20 hour days and then sleep in beds the size of coffins.

But here I am, on my VAIO, with an iPhone next to me…and a Roku not far from that.

Well, my purchasing/lifestyle decisions, while small, certainly impact the rest of the world.

I did find a good resource in this article from Kanel Strand:

Don't be an American. Imagine you have to move to a quaint little 4th floor walk up apartment in Paris and it has no storage space for anything. What would you take with you to live there? Think about what is most valuable to you and what you can't live without. Ok. you can stop daydreaming about moving to Paris now but de-clutter and simplify your living space as if you are. — Step 12: How to Overcome Consumerism

But this is a conversation I'm ready to have. Help us, Homies! Do we have a choice beyond "don't use electronics"?

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About Cat Rocketship

I was the Managing Editor of Offbeat Home for a year and a half. I have a rich Internet life and also a pretty good real life. Hobbies include D&D, Twitter, and working on making our household more self-reliant. I also draw things.