Once upon a time people bought items that were mostly made in the country in which they lived and, in my case, an item displayed a label stating, ‘Made in Australia’.
Nowadays almost everything has a label with ‘Made in China’ emblazoned (or hidden) on it somewhere.
Now, this is fine and I ‘take my hat off’ to the workers in China producing all these goods at such an amazing rate. Good on them!
But, at the same time, our country has recently announced that the unemployment rate is the highest it’s been for over ten years.
So, where are the jobs?
Well, many of them have disappeared overseas, to places where workers are paid far less than ‘our’ accepted wage. At what cost?
I’m afraid the horse has bolted (as the saying goes); the horse has bolted and the stable door is locked.
In fact the stable is probably no longer there.
People now have adapted to buying goods almost in bulk – kids’ clothes and home-wares, for starters – at cheap prices.
There would probably be a terrible backlash if we were expected to return to the days where our children owned just one pair of school shoes and one pair of good (or casual) shoes and one ‘good’ outfit and one pair of playtime jeans and a couple of T-shirts (for example).
Not to mention only two or three pair of socks and two or three sets of underwear.
The same goes for adults.
We are drowning in clothes and the clothes don’t last long because they are mass produced from (often) inferior materials.
Is it too late to restart a (local) clothing industry that makes quality goods?
Certainly prices would increase, but the clothes would last far longer, thereby being ultimately more money-saving.
And the other (perhaps) main benefit would be that there would be jobs for all ages and expertise, from the factory floor workers to the distributers, to the designers to the advertising promoters….
On a personal note, I own three woollen pullovers that I have had for anywhere between 10 and 15 years. They are still in excellent condition, and all are labelled, ‘Made in Australia’. They are not misshapen, nor do they have ‘pilling’.
But, try to buy a ‘Made in Australia’ piece of clothing today and it will be an uphill battle.
I used to shop (locally) for night attire, always the lovely ‘Givoni’ made in Australia brand nighties and casual wear, but the last two ‘Givoni’ items I bought, even though the same brand, are skimpier, with poorer quality fabric, with ‘Made in China’ on the tag.
So, apart from the lack of quality in newer garments, where are the workers who used to make these items? Where do these once busily occupied people spend their days?
Where do they work?
Do they work?
And this is just me talking about a few clothes.
Walking through stores such as Target and Kmart, one cannot help but see shoppers pushing huge trolleys stacked high with clothing and house-hold goods.
This is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Do we all need so much stuff?
Why are socks and undies sold in packs of three and five?
It’s almost impossible to buy a pair of socks – just one pair at a time.
Small children’s underwear seems to be sold no other way but in bulk. Is this because they wear out so quickly?
Do they get lost?
What’s the reason for this?
Does anyone ever stop to wonder where all these things come from - and who makes them? Or who might make them? Does anyone care?
But, enough about clothes! Obviously I could go on and on about that forever.
Let’s ask about cars, for instance. Do we all have to have a new car with a jazzy new name every year or so? What happened to the sturdily made family car – made here in the land we live, that lasted for many years and was well cared for?
And what about furniture?
Does every newly ‘hitched’ - or non ‘hitched’ - couple have to fill their home with new (shoddily made) sofas and other furniture and accoutrements, that will no longer be fashionable in a couple of years’ time and there will be a need for a new set of everything – not to mention that the sofa, at least, will have lost its spring and the fabric will be worn by then.
Surely there’s a need for some manufacturing industry to convince the buying public to once more go for quality, locally made, items that may cost more but benefit not only the buyer, but the people (yes, real people) who use expertise and care in making such things.
And I haven’t even started on the possibility of a brilliant sustainable energy manufacturing explosion, creating thousands of jobs - and helping save the planet.
PS: In case you’re wondering, the accompanying picture is of a factory in China.