Chapter 6: Go Buy Wisely

“Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.” I Timothy 5:18

Challenge the way you think and really evaluate the impact your lifestyle practices can have. Through the smallest actions and decisions you make, you hold the power to initiate change. Buying wisely is potentially the biggest opportunity for us to fight slavery and exploitation on a daily basis. This chapter does not cover every aspect of labor trafficking, but rather serves as a starting point to raise our levels of awareness and enable us to be more conscious consumers.

Take the Next Step

Purchase your next gift from a Fair Trade or ethical source

Have any belated birthday presents you haven’t purchased yet? Have an upcoming anniversary? Or do you want to buy a present for a longtime friend you haven’t seen in awhile? Take a moment to purchase a present for someone special and share the story of why buying fair trade and ethically sourced products is important in the fight against human trafficking. If this is your first time purposefully purchasing a fair trade product, you will see how easy it is!

There is a countless number of ethical companies you can purchase products from, so here are just a few we have highlighted for you:

Thistle Farms

Thistle Farms is a powerful global community of women healing from prostitution, trafficking and addiction. Located in Nashville, Thistle Farms operates a natural bath and body product line, the Thistle Stop Cafe, the Studios Workshop and Thistle Farms Global Marketplace. Thistle Farms is a supportive workplace where women acquire the skills they need to earn a living wage.

Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages is more than a store. It’s a place where you can explore and connect with your global village. From communities throughout the developing world, every inspired design is crafted with love using materials (usually natural or recycled) and time-honored skills by makers they have known and worked with for years. Every purchase improves the lives of makers by supporting their craft and providing a fair, stable income.

Noonday Collection

Noonday Collection is a socially responsible business that uses fashion to create meaningful opportunities around the world. They design and sell an inspired collection of jewelry and accessories made by artisans across the globe.

Punjammies

Punjammies are lounge pants made with hope by women in India who have escaped human trafficking. Whenever you purchase from them, you invest in the freedom and dignity of these women and girls who are working to forge a new life for themselves and their children.

Fair Moments

Fair Moments is an online resource that provides products with the Fair Trade Certified™ label.  Your everyday purchases can improve an entire community’s everyday lives. Fair Moments social, environmental and economic standards promote safe, healthy working conditions and protect the environment. When farmers and workers are empowered, their additional income helps to build strong, thriving communities.

Fair Trade Friday

Fair Trade Friday, a ministry of Mercy House, is a monthly membership club that delivers high quality fair traded items to your door. The trendy items in the box are fairly traded and provide employment to women all over the world.

We have highlighted just a few companies here with specific products, but so many other items can be purchased from ethical sources or Fair Trade companies. For grocery shopping in Houston, Whole Foods has a policy committed to ethical trade, good working conditions, and environmental protection (in addition to offering Fair Trade products). Trader Joe’s and Central Market also stock a wide range of Fair Trade products. So when purchasing body care products, fruits and vegetables, tea, electronics, and more, be educated on company labor practices.

Take it Further

  • Add the “Food Empowerment” App to your device. You can search different companies to find out how their products are sourced.
  • Next time you shop at your favorite store, ask them about their supply chain and if their products are ethically sourced.  Ask if the manager can give you a call back and let you know.  The mere act of asking raises awareness about the issues and sends a powerful message to companies that this issue matters.
  • Write a letter to a retailer you shop with, pressing them to source their products ethically and take a stand against labor trafficking.
  • Made in a Free World (creators of the Slavery Footprint) has developed a software called FRDM® https://madeinafreeworld.com/, a tool that helps businesses look for and protect themselves against forced labor. The root of where labor trafficking can begin is when businesses find their supplier. Write to retailers you use and urge them to download this software to keep themselves accountable in ethical labor practices. Visit their website for a template letter to send to retailers.
  • Think of one product you could commit to buying Fair Trade in your weekly grocery shopping. Yes, they may cost a little more, but now you can understand why, and you can feel good about where those extra few dollars are going. Wholesome Sweeteners is a local company based in Sugar Land that sells organic and Fair Trade sweeteners. Their products are sold in grocery stores such as HEB, Randalls, and Trader Joe’s.
  • If you are a potential or existing Fair Trade company please visit The World Fair Trade Organization.  As a global membership organisation of fair traders, they facilitate membership applications, ensure members follow the 10 Principles of Fair Trade through the Guarantee System, and improve the Fair Trade Standard. The World Fair Trade Organization provide spaces for producers, exporters, importers, retailers, and consumers to connect and work together, exchange best practices, forge synergies and speak out for Fair Trade – all working towards a sustainable and fair global economy.
  • Watch The True Cost  documentary, which focuses on the fashion world and the impacts of it on people and environment in developing countries.
  • Share clips and articles such as The Dark Side of Chocolate on social media to raise awareness about labor trafficking.

When buying your next coffee, opt for coffee shops like A 2nd Cup  or others that serve Fair Trade and ethically sourced coffee. A 2nd Cup additionally uses fair trade sugar (Wholesome Sweetener) and chocolate in all of their syrups and sauces used for drinks and baked goods.