Monday, March 9, 2009

Target vs WalMart: Is there a lesser of the Superstore "Evils"?

This is a guest post by Shopping Ethically. Her blog has links to websites that feature Fair Trade and USA made merchandise.

I recently read an article, "Confessions of a Sweatshop Inspector," on Washington Monthly. In the article, T.A. Frank recounts his experiences as a sweatshop inspector and gives insight into just how difficult it is to have a REAL inspection of most Chinese factories since most inspections are announced so that factory managers have time to hide anything shady, change employee time cards, coach factory employees on how to answer inspectors' questions, etc....

The real highlight of the article for me, was an answer to a question that I have asked myself many times over the past year since I started my ethical shopping makeover: is Target any better than Wal-mart or are all superstores created ethically equal? According to Frank, one test for determining how "good" or "bad" a company's social responsibility is finding what percentage of the company's factory inspections are unannounced. Obviously, unannounced inspections are much more accurate in determining the actual conditions of a factory than previously scheduled visits.

His findings: Wal-mart: 26% of inspections unannounced
Target: 100% of inspections unannounced

By this criteria alone, Target seems to have the lead over Wal-mart in social responsibility.

My verdict: if you absolutely have to shop at one of these superstores--make it Target.
***But, you really can avoid shopping at any superstore if you're willing to tack on a few extra dollars (depending on what you're buying) per shopping trip to patronize local businesses. For me, the extra dollars are worth spending to help keep these local businesses running--I don't want to be in a position where my only choice for shopping is a superstore. I have avoided both stores since January, and I haven't had to go without anything--nor have I noticed any huge changes in my expenditures (except for the costs of house-building, but that's another story!).

1 comment:

Debtfree2009 said...

I don't shop at Wal-Mart and have wondered if shopping at Target was just as bad.