Yesterday I was shopping at my local REI, and I couldn’t help but notice how many of the windbreakers I was trying on were made in China.
Since I’ve been blogging about such issues of late, I decided to ask whether REI uses an auditor to ensure that the Chinese-produced apparel it sells is made in factories that adhere to decent labor standards. The clerk I approached said she thought so but wasn’t sure, so she paged a manager. The manager said yes, there was some type of auditing, but he didn’t know any of the details, like whether REI did it itself or hired an independent certifier. He suggested that I call or email the company to get in touch with someone who worked in the area of social responsibility.
While I was glad that my inquiry didn’t meet with blank stares, it’s a shame that even a retailer that identifies so highly with green and worker-friendly principles doesn’t have structures in place to disseminate this type of information to customers on the floor.