How much does this bag really cost?

‘A practical and theoretical insight into the manufacturing industry’ or 'How much does this bag really cost'?

This project was devised as so the students involved could gain an understanding of the labour required in creating everyday products. The product the students created in this instance was the cotton tote bag. The project took place in a secondary school in West Limerick. Ireland with students ranging from 14 - 16 years old over the course of a day. The workshop began by showing a documentary entitled ‘Nike: Behind the Swoosh’ which is a investigative documentary looking at the manufacturing plants where Nike create their products and the conditions in which the employees work.

“Nike Sweatshops: Behind the Swoosh is the ultimate video for exploring the sweatshop issue. Using Nike as a case study, the film documents first hand the widespread and oppressive and exploitative labor practices in the developing world”

Following this the students were asked to discuss the issues raised in the film. The discussion itself yielded little emotional response from the students but as the day progressed some of the issues raised in the film were complemented with practical activities as so the students could jbetter empathise with the workers in the film. The next stage of the workshop involved stitching the seams of a tote bag back together with a needle and thread. Once this was complete the students were divided into workers and boss’s and given a set of instructions to build a DIY screen printing press. Next the students screen printed the bags in Irish and in English with the text ‘How much does this bag really cost?’ and ‘Cé mhéad a chosnaíonn an mála seo?’ on either side.

The workshop concluded with the students allocating a price to the bag. They were asked to take into consideration the labour involved in making the bag but also take into account the cost of the bag in a retail store. The students decided ask each other how much they thought their bag was worth and got an average based on the number of people in the class. The price of 4.98 was allocated the bag in the first instance. But after careful consideration and some thought with regard their target audience (the student body) 2 euro was allocated to the bag. The students were then asked a final question which they had to decide amongst themselves. Would they like to keep the profits for themselves? Or Donate the money to a local charity?

They donated the money to charity.  

School link

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