The Free Press, Mankato, MN


April 26, 2013

Our View: Cheap clothing has a hidden cost

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To the lack of concern for human safety that allowed a building collapse in Bangladesh.

And to the corporations — and consumers — who don’t do enough to force changes.

The garment factory building that collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh was in such poor condition local officials had ordered it vacated — an order that was ignored.

When it collapsed this week, at least 275 people were killed and more than 2,000 were rescued. It is the worst-ever disaster in Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry that supplies global retailers.

The country has a notorious reputation for very low pay, no concern for workers, including children, and terrible safety records.

Of course, the industry is driven by companies’ and consumers’ thirst for the lowest possible cost in clothing.

There have been some strides, driven by consumers and some companies, to make improvements in the production of other products, such as fair trade coffee. Such efforts need to be ramped up in the clothing sector, where lives are being wasted.

No going back to winter

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To the arrival of spring.

Yes, it’s here. Finally. No matter what. We had real spring temperatures Friday and this weekend will bring 70s. Even if it cools off a bit next week — even if it snows once or twice more — we know that spring with its green grass, flower shoots, flurry of bird activity and ice-out on area lakes means spring is here to stay. The agonizingly long, extended winter of 2012-13 is over. Good riddance.

All of a sudden people not seen for months are biking, running and walking dogs in the neighborhood. Get ready for a mad rush on charcoal and propane, seeds, and night after night of makeup ball games and track and golf meets.

The hustle and bustle of reborn life and activity are welcome. And a huge relief as we stuff the shovels into the back of the garage.

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