Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What Are Things Worth?

So, Olivia wants to be a dinosaur for Halloween.  And I've been searching for a dinosaur costume for her.  Most dinosaur costumes are cheap and flimsy and deliberately designed for boys.  And while I didn't MIND her wearing a boys costume, it was bugging me that all the dinosaur costumes were for boys.  Hello, girls like dinosaurs too, particularly my little girl who is OBSESSED with them right now.

I happened to stumble across a seller on Etsy who makes spiked dinosaur hoodies and strap-on tails.  I liked the idea immediately, because the hoodie would be something Olivia could wear all the time (and trust me, she will wear it all. the. time.) even after Halloween was over.  Also, we could customize the colors of the costume.  Only thing was, it was forty three dollars. Plus ten dollars shipping. Which is a lot of money for a Halloween costume, especially since we'll still have to buy a cheap pair of sweatpants to match, not that she can't get a lot of use out of a pair of black sweatpants.

So I weighed my options. I could buy this super-cute, customizable, reusable outfit for a lot of money, or I could go to a Halloween store and buy a flimsy, generic-looking costume that would be only used one day, but would cost me half as much.

We went with the Etsy seller.  Black, with pink and orange spikes.  Olivia loves pink and orange.  It's super adorable.

My mom took one look at the costume and said "it's cute, but you know it's not worth 50 dollars, right?"

Well, no, mom, I don't know that.  Shipping was 10 dollars.  That seems a reasonable price for shipping something bulky and awkward like the tail.  The materials themselves probably cost AT LEAST 20 dollars.  That only leaves about 20 dollars for the labor.  Now, I would guess this seller is fairly skilled and, since she makes a lot of them, can whip one out in a couple hours.  But that's still only about 10 dollars an hour, which is barely above minimum wage.  I don't know anything about this seller, but I imagine that this is something she does to supplement her family's income.  10 dollars an hour is MORE than reasonable and fair.

I'm really sick of people acting like other people's labor isn't worth anything.  That it would be unfair to raise minimum wage or pay fast food workers a living wage, because heaven forbid I pay a little bit extra for a burger.  That burger isn't worth that.

Maybe not, but people's lives are.  People deserve to make a living wage.  Labor costs are PART of what makes a product "worth" the money you spend on it.  Because when I spent $50 on that Halloween costume, I was paying for the costume, yes, but I was ALSO paying for the labor of the person involved in making it.  More than worth the money I spent.  Plus, I was supporting small business, rather than big box chains.  I was supporting someone who can demand her own wage and profits, rather than a company that makes tons of profits off the backs of workers in Indonesia or Bangladesh or where ever who live in horrible working conditions and make pennies a day.  Yeah, you'd better believe that's WORTH $50 to me.

Look, I'm pretty poor.  I don't always have the money to buy the fair trade, more ethical options.  And, the way our society is set up, I don't always even have the option to do so.  But whenever I can, I try to support small businesses, local if possible, or companies that I know treat their employees well rather than ones that treat them like dirt.  The way our society is set up, its almost impossible to avoid exploiting people when you make your consumption choices.  But I did NOT exploit the person who made my daughter's Halloween costume.

But you know what? It's not like I was thinking about all this global and ethical stuff when I made the purchase.  No, the seller just made a good product that was worth it to me to buy.

Worth $50 mom? Why yes, I think so! On every level.

If anybody who reads this is interested to know where to buy a super cute, customizable and practical dinosaur costume, check out http://www.etsy.com/shop/KidHub?ref=l2-shopheader-name

No comments:

Post a Comment