Earlier this year, I took a journey to Tijuana, Mexico, to visit an orphanage operated by the Corazon De Vida Foundation. The trip was an incredible opportunity to spend time with the 93 children who lived at the orphanage, as well as get to know the donors and workers who gave freely to help make their lives better.
Part of the trip involved having breakfast with students who were raised in the orphanage. Some of the children still lived on premises, while others had made it into university programs, paid entirely by Corazon De Vida.
That morning, I sat down and chatted with two brothers, aged 17 and 22, with our conversation facilitated by a translator. The 22 year-old really stood out to be, because he mentioned he made t-shirts for a living. When I asked him to explain further, he told me that he worked in a factory, creating t-shirts that were shipped to America.
His hours were staggering; working 70-80 hours per six-day workweek in a sweltering hot factory. His pay? Roughly $45USD per week.
Imagine having to work for ten hours in a blistering hot factory, simply to afford a stick of deodorant, or pay for a beer. The working conditions and pay rate shocked me.
Sitting across the table from this young man, I began to re-evaluate my own priorities and consumer-driven habits.
The American obsession with ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ comes at the price of hard labor and subhuman working conditions of those in other countries.
Frankly, it’s pretty sickening to pull back the curtain on the ‘American dream’ and realize it’s being kept alive by those working in sweatshops, kept alive by suicide nets, or fueled by child slavery. For an alternative to iPhone, please see Fairphone – coming this Fall.
Coming back from this trip, I realized that I had a choice to make about my habits, asking myself:
Am I OK with purchasing products that are manufactured by workers in sweatshops? Are you?
My immediate answer was a resounding “NO” however, I realized that it takes more than anger to change habits; it takes an action plan.
Many Americans simply aren’t educated of the facts that their products (nearly all of them) are produced by workers in sub-human working conditions, for wages that barely keep them alive.
I hope you read this and your spirit disturbs you. However, this blog isn’t to shame you, but to inform you of a alternative solution for your shopping habits that can change the course of the world’s materialistic mind set.
Two years ago, I had the privilege of meeting a man named Luc Berlin in San Francisco. However, the story goes back a bit further than the moment we hugged and I told him “I don’t know why, but we were supposed to meet and work together.”
See, Luc was the man that introduced my older brother, Steve, to the tech industry. His company hired Steve as a contractor. There was a day when Luc approached Steve, with an opportunity to apply for an executive-level position; grooming him for the role that would change his life by launching him into the fast-paced world of tech startup marketing.
Luc gave a gift of an opportunity to Steve, who paid forward the favor when he invited me to move to California, where I met Luc.
Luc’s passion project is a company called Miigle+, a website that identifies and promotes ethically-produced products. What is an ethically-produced product? They’re products and services that are produced in humane working environments, with material sourcing that is sustainable for our environment/eco-friendly.
Luc’s vision is to see Miigle+ grow into a tool that helps educate and inform online shoppers to make better purchasing decisions, which results in well-made, sustainable purchases that are free from environment harm, human abuse, and child slavery.
When I stared into the eyes of the young student, only 22 years-old, I saw pain and suffering. As I shook his hand, I felt hands that were hardened from hours of hard labor. In that moment, I decided to put an end to my own purchases that put money in the pockets of the people who seek to ravage and plunder our world’s children/environment by exploiting the materialistic mind set that has been sold as the ‘American dream’
The American dream shouldn’t be experienced as a nightmare for those who make it possible.
All of us have a responsibility to make the world better for those around us. I hope you will join me in supporting Miigle+ by taking the time to learn more about sustainable, eco-friendly shopping habits that don’t come at the cost of child labor, or our world.
Dear Luc – I want to personally thank you for the blood, sweat, and tears you have put into Miigle+, as well as the opportunity you gave Steve, several years ago. Your actions have already begun to make a ripple on the world and you’ve reunited two brothers, reinforcing an inseparable bond – the universe pays attention to these things.
I hope and pray that Miigle+ will grow beyond your wildest visions; tipping the scale from consumerism to a shared vision carried by people who want to see the world change for all who live in it.
Thanks, Wolf. Let’s change the world.