Blood, Sweat and Luxuries

9.7/10 based on 5 votes

Episode 1

Six young British consumers swap their luxury lives for the simple mud huts and shanty towns of Africa and Asia to work alongside the people who mine, manufacture, process and recycle luxury goods.

In this episode the Brits head to one of Africa’s poorest countries, Ethiopia, and its capital Addis Ababa where they join some of the thousands of locals who rely on the leather industry to survive.

Working in abattoirs, tanneries and leather factories that supply shoes to Europe’s high streets tempers begin to fray. Sam and Alex lose patience with Oscar, as does the supervisor. But when the girls discover how little money one of the young shoe factory workers has to live on, they in turn take on the boss.

While there’s no surprise to the community of lowly paid workers they encounter, there is shock at the extent of the poverty, exploitation and appalling risks involved in getting gemstones to market.

There’s no escaping the white-missionary vibe of the show, especially when the rich white kids try offering life advice to one impoverished worker. But there’s also no denying the cultural gulf between them and us, nor the delight in seeing our stars having their self-obsession taken down a notch or two.

Released in June, 2010. 60 min. Director: Anna Stickland. Suggested by Kate.

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Discuss This Documentary

  • Eric

    It’s hard to watch these stupid british girls. They are so ignorant of peoples feeling that they talk about money and living situations right in front of the Ethiopian girl, it blew me away. In the end they did give her that 50 pounds(big deal) though. Then it’s basically the same with the Philipino girls, soo awkward, the one girl didn’t even stay awake to eat the meal they had cooked for her.

  • leer

    Oscars attitude leaves me speechless…

  • M

    Oscars attitude also left me speechless. And all he came away with was – dont buy leather shoes because the work is disgusting…… People need those wages.

    I dont agree that the British girls were so heartless. I think to shield the people living in poverty from the realities of wealth is not helpful and I applaud their efforts to make change.

    I think the only way to make meaningful change is to send strong signals to industry that we do not want products that were made at low cost to ensure high profit margins to corporations, and will only buy products made by people receiving a fair wage for their labour and working under fair conditions.

    When the people who make our goods receive fair wages they have money to spare for more services and goods in their own countries enabling local economies to develop. For example the lady in the Phillipines, if the people living in Manila could afford better and more food, her family may be able to survive from local jobs because then there would be a greater demand for farm produce.

    The only way to send this signal is to only purchase fair trade or ethical goods, and follow up to ensure that they really are fair trade. When we all focus on fair trade and it grows, unethical trade will diminish and the world will become more equitable.

    Third world debt and corrupt local politics are contributing factors that need to be addressed too but we have to start somewhere.

    The words: in order for some to have more, others have to have less – run through my mind regularly these days.

  • tom moylan

    oscar needs a serious ass kicking. little coward hiding behind his mamas boy sulk trip

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