"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, August 02, 2009

More on TFA Fundraising, Gap Inc., Children, and Globalization

While Gap Inc. offers 30% discounts at their various stores and an added 5% bonus donation to TFA or one of 5 other charities, the factories responsible for supplying the denim to Gap (and Levi Strauss) are contributing to environmental hell for the surrounding communities. Until the end of the day, you can still head to a Gap Inc. store (Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy) to support corporate irresponsibility overseas AND unprepared, temporary teachers for minority students here in the United States. Not surprisingly, the neoliberals over at Eduwonk have been promoting the consumer-driven philanthropy efforts. From the Times Online (and extended story here):
August 1, 2009

Gap factory danger to African children


(Robin Hammond)

At rubbish dumps in Maseru, children as young as 3 pick through waste products thrown away by Maseru's garment industry. They are often collecting offcuts from jeans to burn for cooking.

A factory that makes jeans for Gap and Levi Strauss is illegally dumping chemical waste in a river and two unsecured tips where it poses a hazard to children.

The scandal was uncovered by a Sunday Times investigation into pollution caused by a plant in Lesotho, southern Africa, which supplies denim to the two companies. Dark blue effluent from the factory of Nien Hsing, a Taiwanese firm, was pouring into a river from which people draw water for cooking and bathing.

The firm was also dumping needles, razors and harmful chemicals such as caustic soda at municipal dumps that have attracted child rag-pickers as young as five in search of cloth fragments to sell for fuel.

Many of the children, who work for up to 10 hours a day, complain of breathing difficulties, weeping eyes and rashes.

Yesterday Gap and Levi Strauss said they had ordered immediate investigations. Gap, which has a public image of environmental awareness, put the factory “on notice” to improve. Levi Strauss said it was “disturbed” to see that water was being polluted.

Gap has said it will conduct a thorough environmental qssessment in Lesotho in partnership withan independent environmental organisation and work with factory management to improve training and knowledge around waste handling and disposal. It will also convene a meeting of suppliers in Lesotho to update policies, procedures and expectations.

"While we're very proud of the progress we've made to date, we also understand that conditions are not perfect and that there is still a great deal more to be done to improve both environmental and factory working conditions in developing regions like Lesotho," said Glenn Murphy, chairman and chief executive of Gap Inc.


  1. "conditions are not perfect"

    Classic corporate-speak from a hack.

  2. Anonymous7:44 AM

    The water and chemical issues associated with denim manufacturing were solved in the United States several decages ago. The knowledge, know-how and methods are readily available. It seems to me the corporate leadership is either ignorant or irresponsible.