Homobonus, patron saint of sweatshop workers

First prize in the silly sounding names for saints list goes to dear old Homobonus, whose name literally means ‘good man’.

But on his feast day (November 13th) we should remember the people he is supposed to be patron of.

Homobonus was a medieval tailor and merchant, a man who believed the wealth he had inherited and earned was there for him to look after others with, and he maintained scrupulously honest accounts and gave generously to the poor.

Today we are all rich over here in the UK, very, very few of us live on anything like $2 per day, but all around the world there are thousands, millions even, of others who do. People who are quite literally slaves to our lifestyles, working in conditions which are unacceptable and for wages which keep them just out of starvation but a long way from comfort.

Our determination to buy cheap clothing from unscrupulous retailers who think that signing the ETI is enough to give them ‘ethical’ status shows that we as a society have forgotten the ways of Homobonus, and have become a collective Homomalus, trampling on the impoverished producers of our clothing.

If you want to buy clothing today (or any other day), please act responsibly and avoid the attractions of cheap disposable clothing which is made by people enslaved to our whims. The best thing to do is to buy second hand clothing, if you have to buy new, then seek out good quality clothing which will last, is made of environmentally responsible materials, and which is made by people whom you can trust to look after their workers.

 

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