“I saw a bargain today”

As a child I thought shops made the things they sold. The idea that toys were made the other side of the world seemed outlandish. With online shopping it seems almost like magic. But, as Fairtrade Fortnight highlights, everything we buy is made and put together by real people, living real lives, every step of the way.

“I saw a bargain today”

A fabulous dress;
A pair of shoes:
Much cheaper online
How could I refuse?
Arriving tomorrow, at no extra cost.
I hurried to ‘click’, before it was lost.
But just as I hovered, I heard someone say
“Let me show you who paid for your bargain today”.

She showed me the fields where the cotton was grown;
And the pitiful payment the farmers took home.
She showed me the rivers where pesticides flow;
And the fields alongside them, where crops barely grow.

I covered my ears but I still heard her say:
“There are others who paid for your bargain today”

She showed me the factories away in the East,
Where shifts are the longest and wages the least.
She showed me the workers too scared to protest
As the contracts must follow the cheapest, not best.

I told her “Enough!” but I still heard her say:
“Yet others will pay for your bargain today.”

The packers from warehouses, too tired to stand;
The child breathing fumes from the couriers round;
The fish eating fibres washed down to the deep;
The families who live near the burning trash heap;

Then my children looked up and I heard them say:
“How long ’til we pay for your bargain today?”

I saw a bargain today.”

After this poem appeared on http://www.joyinenough.org in February 2021, Izzy Barrett (https://www.instagram.com/izustrations/) shared this  fabulous picture.

7 thoughts on ““I saw a bargain today”

  1. Well, this is a timely reminder! Have I bored you with my efforts to dress F entirely from second-hand clothes, or things knitted by me? Exceptions permitted include occasional mad splurge at Jojo Maman Bebe (permissable as it is a B-Corporation) and underwear for me (has to be made in Europe, which frankly, feels like cheating, because French underwear always nicer anyway). The biggest problem I’m finding is not the ethical clothing, it is eliminating plastic from the shopping basket. There is no difficulty in finding loose vegetables, and I’ve even tracked down plastic-free toothpaste – but lipstick! Foundation! Am I the only woman in the world who wants virtuous make-up? I’ll be reduced to applying white lead any moment now.

    1. Clearly there needs to be a new start up doing this. Sadly I dont use enough to make it an issue but I should! Have you tried the Ethical superstore? No idea if they do it but worth a shot . Xxx

  2. Fabulously thought provoking; ties in so well with our Lent challenges that centre on stewardship of God’s creation. Anto has produced a great booklet for our study at Ichthus this term. We will be thinking about consumerism and its effects as a small part of that. It makes me think your poem would be good to be able to read as part of that. What do you think?

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