We Treehuggers actually prefer the embroidered Make Poverty History bands which firstly aren’t made from plastic, but more importantly they are made by a women’s cooperative in Bangladesh which is training women in various skills so they can earn a living to help improve their own lives and those of their families. The organisation is called Nari Maitree and is linked to Action Aid.
Whether you like promoting charitable causes from the wrist or not it, cannot have escaped your notice that these bands have become a fashion trend phenomenon and as with all seemingly good ideas it’s not long before clever opportunists come along to rip it off. In a very short space of time the trend for wearing these plastic bands has gone from cult charity loving accessory promoted by celebs and politicians (people were buying them on eBay!) to a teenage style obsession where kids are collecting as many different colours as possible. And suddenly the awareness raising messages have been lost and random sentimental words have started replacing them. ‘love’, ‘happy’, ‘together’ In fact you can now choose to make whatever statement you want on your wrist. Certain websites are now selling custom made bands to order. And you can be sure that none of the profits from these bands are going to charity.
While it is galling to see people making a lot of money out of an idea that was designed to raise funds and awareness for good causes it is of course impossible to do anything about it and that is the unfortunate way of the world. Sadly there are also stories of even the supposedly ‘official’ bands being produced in Chinese sweat shops and recently the bands promoting the Live 8 concerts have been tarnished by stories of workers rights violations. (click here to read the full story)
So even if you do have good intentions of donating money by buying a wristband you can’t be certain that the origins of your fun coloured jewelry are entirely charitable. However we can take some comfort from the fact that this being a fashion trend it will eventually fade into sartorial history. Let’s just hope that when the wristbands end up in the fashion bin the trend for supporting charities will carry on in a more classical fashion.
Websites selling official fundraising bands:
[Leonora & Petz]