SixEight Life

justice.mercy.journey

{features} Shopping

I’m continuing my Not for Sale {features} today with one of my favorite subjects- shopping! Well, in my pre-student loans single years, shopping was one of my favorite subjects. It doesn’t happen as much now, except for groceries and the occasional impulse buy at Target. We are so blessed in the United States with so many options. We have numerous grocery stores, specialty shops. We can choose if we want our style to be preppy, boho, hipster, or simple. The possibilities are endless. We take food to a completely different level. I’ve been to 14 counties and our grocery stores are unmatched. We take food very seriously, and usually its pretty fabulous. I mean, obesity is running rampant, but that’s a topic to discuss in another post. I know I take for granted the infinite choices at my fingertips.

But there’s a dark side behind our infinite choices and plethora of products at our fingertips. It’s easy to forget about the people who make our products. Sex trafficking is a huge issue. It traumatizes women, girls and boys, and leads to lifelong issues that are difficult to recover from. But there are far more individuals who are victims of labor trafficking than sex trafficking. There are 9 victims of labor trafficking to every 1 victim of sex trafficking. (Polaris Project)

Many of these trafficked individuals are making our clothes. They’re harvesting the cocoa and cacao beans to make our chocolate and coffee. They are picking our produce. This is a huge social issue. I don’t want to get on my soapbox, but it disturbs me that while we have labor laws in the United States, minimum wage and organized unions to protect workers from being exploited. But the vast majority of our products made overseas are subject to no such regulations. There is a lack of concern from companies, simply due to a lack of concern from their consumers. We have been primarily concerned with price, quantity, and quality. It’s easy to forget that someone made that dress, picked that tomato, and harvested that cocoa. I’ve been ruminating on this issue for years, and felt pretty helpless. I could find fair trade coffee and chocolate, and a few clothing items, but it was almost impossible to live a fair trade lifestyle, especially if one is a college student or a social worker on a budget.

But Not for Sale is trying to change all that. They’ve introduced Free2Work, a smartphone app and website that grades companies on several elements to determine their ethical practices. Free2Work is excellent. They’ve been consistently adding companies, and they want to work with companies that have bad grades in order to improve their score. And the data isn’t completely depressing. I was happy to see that Gap, inc received a B- score for their products. It’s not perfect, but they are making strides in ensuring their products are slave free.

As a result of efforts like Free2Work and other consumer pressure, chocolate companies like Hershey’s are beginning to acknowledge that they are ignorant about their supply chains. They realize this needs to change. I found this article that reports on Hershey’s announcement to introduce fair trade products into the market. It’s not perfect, but its progress. Trader Joe’s just signed the fair food agreement to begin to certify their produce as ethical. Change is happening.

The Free2Work app has encouraged me that I’m not alone in the fight against labor trafficking and slavery. It’s given me practical steps to take to ensure I’m making good decisions regarding my consumerism. It’s been encouraging to see the progress as a result of efforts from Not for Sale and others. We will win this fight against slavery. I hope you have a few moments to check out the Free2Work app or website. It’s really interesting and you may be surprised to learn about some of the companies listed.We can change the world, one purchase at a time.

“Don’t buy someone else’s misery”- Kevin Austin, Not for Sale

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