How to ethically source products made in overseas factories?
Hi Chris this is Gary from Riverside California. And I've been listening to the show since the beginning. Thanks for all the great content. I'm thinking about creating a product and I'm interested in ethical sourcing. The product needs to be assembled from a few basic components. I have concerns about overseas factories. I know it's cheap to get products made in China or elsewhere but can I make sure they're fair labor laws and good working conditions for the employees. I WANNA make money but not at the expense of someone's welfare. Hey I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question and I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Gary what's up man? You're awesome thank you so much for this question. It's really great. It helped me think a lot about it. I think actually have another question from somebody that was quite similar to this so I know you're not the only one wondering so the other person as their question like how can I know for sure you know that I'm not doing something that is harmful of someone else or as I said destroying the planet. And here's the honest truth like just want to give you the headline upfront. You can't like there is no way to know for sure. And in the past. And you've probably seen in the news. Companies like apple and Nike and the gap and other enormous brands. That essentially limitless resources have gotten a lot of trouble when journalists have published an expose. There's been some other kind of reveal about the working conditions of their factories or about environmental costs. That haven't been factored in and in some of those cases. Perhaps we could say oh. It's an evil company. You know there was a lot of malcontent knew this was happening. But it's also true. In other cases the companies themselves didn't know or they had been assured that the situation was better than it actually was. There is a lot of obfuscation. You know on the ground there are a lot of incentives for people to lead so this is a massive industry and it really is difficult to police all of it so just kind of the reality of outsourcing even big companies don't have complete control over the environment when they're doing something like this and if anybody tells you one hundred percent possible to know that there are no externalities to know that all the Labor conditions are fair like I don't know that's totally true and because of that I also understand why some people prefer not to source from countries. Whenever possible at the same time like I do want to mention the counterpoint which is also true often. The job that the factories in these countries provide really are better than any alternatives. Like a lot of people who are working in these factories. They're doing so willingly because they're able to send more money back to their family or because it is the best job that they can get. That's why I'm kind of skeptical about the idea. That globalization is universally harmful in these situations. So it is complex as I said a couple things you do since we want to talk about practical staff couple things you can do. You can avoid the middleman if you're talking to a contact there that you've met on Alibaba or all you express or a similar website. You know you can have a skype resume call you know. Don't just email. You can actually have a call with them and asked to see the factory. Ask How many people work there. And if you don't get a good answer it means you're not talking to somebody who's actually at that factory. You're talking to somebody who works with a lot of different places and is really just interested in getting your order and then kind of farming it out somewhere now. Of course. That knowledge isn't going to help you with everything else that you would like to know but it is something like it's a start and we've also had stories of people who have gone and visited the factory where their product is being manufactured. And and you know. Try to build a long term relationship now of course not. Everyone is able to do that. Like the reason why you're having your product made in China or wherever is because it's far away and inaccessible to you but somebody else can do it but still it could be an option for some one more thing. You might be helpful to look for vendors with certification. There are a number of certifications out there whether it's fair trade or something called S. Q. F. I. Ethical Sourcing Alibaba itself now has a number of certifications that do have some degree of enforcement or at least some sort of standards. The problem with it again just to be fully on us is that there's no overall standardization there either. Like the certification business can actually be a bit of a racket sometimes so it just goes to show like we live in this world without Borders in terms of commerce at least so there is no single global authority that says you know the standards of Canada apply in Cambodia or whatever it is like there is this principle of buyer. Beware that comes when you're doing these kinds of things so in the end you know if you're if you're struggling with this. I think you do what you reasonably can. And then you decide to make your decision and move on either with sourcing from overseas or finding an alternative if it bothers you so much so there you have it not an easy answer as I said but I hope it was helpful to Gary. Thank you so much again and anyone else who wanders