Monday, December 5, 2011

Shopping Slave Free

One thing that going to Ghana and seeing the children on Lake Volta has done for me... is convicted me to be very conscientious about the purchases I make.

I have long had very strong opinions and convictions on certain companies. Nestle and Nike are the main companies I have boycotted for several years. They violate human rights in several areas and I just couldn't stomach using their products any longer. But Ghana made me think broader about this. I don't want to intentionally use anything that has been slave made or been made in a manor that violates the rights of people.

But what does that really entail? Well if you think about the vastness of slavery and how it is used to make products cheap... well you will be overwhelmed. So I have decided to go about this slowly and methodically so that I can really learn about what I am doing and educate people on it as I transition. 

The first step is shopping fair trade for Christmas. This means if it is imported (one example I ran into was a footbag/ hackey sack), find it fair trade or locally made. We wanted a crocheted footbag and knew that they were typically made in S. Mexico and Guatemala since that is where we got our first one and most awesome and amazing quality one ever. So I set out to find some to go into the hubs stocking that I could feel good about. It may cost $1 or $2 more but the payoff is that I know the person who made the footbag will be paid fairly. Totally worth it to me. The idea is always to pay the person who made the item a fair price enabling families to have successful businesses. I have also tried to make sure the items I have asked for this year for Christmas is slave free. Fair trade, hand made or companies I have researched. 

This was not particularly hard for me since I did most of my Christmas shopping in Ghana. I paid the people who made the objects directly. But in the States, it is obviously more complicated. It means researching companies and/or just staying away from box stores and shopping fair trade or at locally owned small businesses. Or small businesses through etsy or other sites like that. I can't really do that all the time because it is cost prohibitive for my family. So I try to look at my options and research them to purchase slave free products.

Like I said, it is overwhelming to go at it all at once. So start small. I started with Nestle. It was easy for me to stop buying nestle products as there are tons of other brand options (but you gotta watch out because nestle owns a ton of other companies) and the conviction I felt was overwhelming. Then I went to Nike. And I just keep adding another facet to my buying habits as I can. 

This may seem simple but I will state it anyway as a lesson I am really starting to understand. In life, intentions don't go far. I can't say that I am an abolitionist and that I oppose human rights violations if I stay, knowingly, a part of it. It is like saying you love your child but never touching him or showing affection to him. It makes your words empty and useless. Even harmful because you are not letting your convictions humble you to action. 

So, I encourage you all to think about this. How can you take steps to live a more "slave free" life? I definitely hope you look into the idea and see where your heart is led on the matter.

Some ideas if you want to go slave free for Christmas are:
Shopping fair trade: Coming Together Trading Company, The Hunger Site, World of Good and many many many more stores to consider

Shop local and small business. Make sure to frequent places and make relationships with employees and store owners and ask questions about their products.

Shop Etsy and buy from friends you know with their own online businesses. I have a ton of talented friends with their own businesses. 

Shop second hand: it is pretty difficult to get clothes that were not made using sweatshops or slavery but if you buy 2nd hand you are not contributing to more slave labor.

There are so many other ideas and ways to limit purchasing slave produced items. If you have more ideas, leave them in the comments and I will be sure to compile a list soon.


Emily said...

I was just putting together a post with fair trade retailers linked up - thanks for sharing this! I hadn't heard of The Hunger Site or World of Good, but will definitely be checking them out soon!

Debra said...

ten thousand villages is also wonderful. We have a brick and mortar store here but they also have a nice website:

Lizzie said...

Those are some great ideas. I do agree, we need to be cautious about what we buy. I have an Etsy shop, if anyone would like to check it out. Here's the link-
Thanks :)