I normally refrain from commenting on the domestic vs Asian manufacturing issue on this blog for two reasons;
- The focus here is on tech, not hard goods
- Given my ownership of a domestically manufacturing business I’m reluctant to whine
But this morning I can’t resist. I read Icebreaker, the former New Zealand manufacturer of merino clothing, has presented at a rural environmental conference talking up it’s own policies. Apparently it will only buy fibre from farmers that meet minimum standards of care for their sheep and farm dogs, minimum food levels and the like. This all sounded great (hey my own sheep are treated the same way sitting in a paddock about 100metres from where I type this), until I read the last paragraph;
He defended Icebreaker manufacturing its product in China, saying the technology there was far better than what was available in New Zealand for large-scale production.
So the way I see it, this is business prepared to be ethical in situations where it can coerce ethics out of its suppliers (and assumedly at no cost to themselves) but when that extends to manufacturing in a country without mass environmental and social abuse, that preparedness somehow dissipates.
I liken it to the legion of people who drive their 4litre SUVs down to the cafe just so they can order free-trade coffee.
It’s why this world is in the dire situation it currently is – utter self-interest and token gestures that do nothing but thrust our own responsibilities onto others.
Right – rant over – back to the tech….