A Day to Serve… Three ways to make a difference

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” -Martin Luther King Jr.

Today and Monday are days set aside to serve, in remembrance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He peacefully stood for justice his entire life, and died for justice in the end. I believe that when we stand up against slavery in all its forms, we are living out the legacy of MLK. Therefore, on these days of service, we should serve. However, in addition to this, I believe that we should all make a stand for justice through fair trade products in one of three ways.

1. Watch What You Wear

So many companies that produce clothing do nothing to address or acknowledge the very real existence of slavery and labor abuse

Fair Trade Clothing

within their supply chains. Since we all need clothes, it is hard to shift through the bad to find clothing you can confidently wear knowing that the purchase did  not contribute to human trafficking. Lucky for us, there are two socially responsible ways we can wear clothes

  • Buy second hand
    Regardless of the brand, buying second hand does not give money to the companies participating in poor labor practices. Also,
    there is the added benefit of saving you money. Many thrift stores donate their proceeds to charity. So, buying second hand can do a lot of good
  • Buy from responsible brands
    Thanks to the Free2Work Apparel Trends Report, we can now know which companies are using slaves in their supply chain, and which are not. There are many fair trade clothing brands, such as Good and Fair and Maggie’s Organics.

2. Picking Produce

Produce at a farmer’s market I visited in Immokalee, Florida

In the U.S., tomato workers are still being treated as indentured slaves in some cases. There are cases that have gone through the courts already. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers works with companies to ensure that they are buying fairly-produced produce. Trader Joes and Taco Bell are two examples of retailers who have signed agreements with CIW. Publix is a major grocery store that refuses to agree to their terms. Check out the website for a full list of stores that use fairly produced produce.

Furthermore, a great way to ensure that your produce is fair trade is to buy local. Check your local chamber of commerce for a farmers market near you. (Bonus: They are almost always cheaper than the grocery store, it may be worth a drive.)

3. Sweets, Anyone?

Do you love chocolate? What am I saying, of course you do. Most chocolate brands that are used today have connections to slavery on

Chocolate and Coffee can both be purchased in slavery-free varieties

the Ivory Coast of Africa. Luckily, many brands are also taking a stand against this. Fair Trade Chocolate is more expensive, but chocolate is a luxury anyways. So, I resolve to buy it less, but when I do buy it, buy fair trade. (Added Bonus: Fair trade chocolate is usually super classy chocolate, so it tastes better than any old Hershey’s bar.) Click here for a list of fair trade chocolate brands

Do you love Starbucks’ holiday drinks? Ask them to adapt them to be made with their fair trade certified Italian Roast. From what I understand, this is their only certified fair trade coffee, but they are very willing to make you a fresh pot or adapt drinks to help you be a responsible consumer. Coffee is another product frequently linked with modern day slavery. Click here for some fair trade coffee choices, if Starbucks isn”t your vice.

Posted on January 19, 2013, in Fair Trade News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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