Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fair-Trade and Anti-Slavery Shopping: Where to Begin

Working a bit in the area of anti-human trafficking, I get a lot of questions about fair-trade shopping and how to be sure you are not purchasing slave made products.  In light of that, I thought that I’d put something together to refer folks to that will point them in the right direction.
This whole thing can seem pretty overwhelming at first, so take a deep breath and begin the journey with the obvious at first.  (You don’t need to necessarily shred every item of clothing you wear for instance)
  • I started with chocolate, coffee and candy.  We do not, nor do our kids eat anything made by the corporate villain, Nestle or companies like them.  Cocoa and coffee beans are one of the most slave/non fair wage areas of cash crops in the world.  It’s easy to pick up something at Wholefoods and not even need to worry about checking as they have already done it for you.  However, your local grocery store will carry, Endangered Species, which is rated an A+ by Ellis Jones in The Better World Shopping Guide.- Pick up a copy of the book, which has a lot of web site links that will educate you, and find out how companies are rated and why. 
  • By and large I buy gifts that are local (by artisans that are into the same mojo), or certified fair-trade.  Not only am I supporting local business, but I am getting unique things that often give back to developing countries. 
  • If you are ever getting screen printing on t-shirts for your team or organization, insist on getting the printer to verify that they are fair trade. I know Gildan and No Sweat has taken a stand among others.  FYI:  I do not shop at Sam’s Club or Walmart, for there is indeed a cost to someone for our cheap prices. Dillards is also a deceptively sweatshop orientated clothier.
  • Another easy thing would be to make sure that your diamond purchases are not blood diamonds.  Don’t take a verbal promise when purchasing that special lady her engagement ring but insist on seeing certification.  Check out Global Witness who first made the link to diamonds and wars including the use of slaves for mining.
The above is simply to point people in the right direction but you can go as deep into the rabbit hole as you are willing.  A tip for the road: Educate people with patience and kindness in light of your convictions and enjoy the free conscience that comes with your next delicious chocolate bar.
~ Thanks for reading.
To find out more about Rebecca or see where you can purchase her books, The Real-Life Princess and Beetle Hunter, go to www.rebeccadunning.com.

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