Last post I talked about taking the survey at Slavery Footprint.  It hit me like a Mack truck and my head was reeling all day.  Did you take your own survey?  How did you feel after it?

 

A few days have passed and life has gone on. Cooking, packing for a trip, watering the garden.  And I forgot about the slaves working for me. Funny how how you forget things that aren’t right in front of you.   But I don’t want this to be a passing fancy!  Do you??  Are children being forced to work against their will with parents often being tricked into thinking they are sending their boys and girls to school only to have them working in a fishing boat or brothel worth only my glancing thoughts?  No!  They are worth my devotion because no one gets a choice where they are born.  But then I start thinking, What can I really do?  The problem is so big, so daunting.  Can a single person solve a problem of this scope?? Sadly, no. BUT…corporately can we make a difference?  Together can we make our voices defending injustice be heard?   In community can we foster change?  I believe we can!

 

Here are the ugly facts:

 

An estimated 21 million people – 11.4 million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys – are victims of forced labor around the globe.1 These victims work in virtually every industry and across sectors, including manufacturing, agriculture, construction, entertainment and domestic service.

 

These victims ‘work’ for companies that you and I patronize. Some more than others. With so many companies, producers and suppliers in the world, how can we find out if they employ slave labor in their supplies chains?  The task seems overwhelming and makes me want to quit even before I begin.

 

But people have been thinking about this problem a lot longer than I have and states and even countries have enacted laws to help the consumer know if the goods brought to market are made with slaves or not.

 

 Shop till you drop
Leading the way are Britain and  my state, California.  Why California, you say?  Because the state of
California is considered the seventh largest economy…in the world! So most every major company in the world does business in the state of California.  And California’s consumer base, you and I who live in California, is the largest in the good ole US of A! So because California is uniquely positioned it has led the way in eradicating slavery and trafficking worldwide.  Yay California!

 

So how has it done that?  In 2015, California passed The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act providing consumers with critical information about the efforts that companies are undertaking to prevent and root out human traf cking and slavery in their product supply chains – whether here or overseas.

 

Here are the Key points:
-Companies (with over $100 million in worldwide gross receipts) doing business in CA must
  do the following:
    -Disclose what they are doing to eradicate slavery/human trafficking from their supply chain.
    -Disclose to the  public on their websites what they do, whether it’s a lot, a little or
     nothing at all. 
    -Does not mandate they implement measures to cease using slaves
    -Must reply to a written request within 30 days of their disclosures if they don’t have a website.

 

Is this huge or what for us consumers?! This is a way we can know how the major companies we buy from treat this issue. With a little time and a few clicks you can get a better idea about the items you purchase.  Companies have to post clearly on their websites how they comply.

Let’s check this out.   Here is a shot Lululemon’s website. Oh look!  It’s right there on the bottom…The California Transparency Act!  Hallelujah!  (Believe me, not all websites are this clear and easy to find what you’re looking for!)

Clicking leads to their Zero-Tolerance Policy:

Wow, this makes me feel pretty assured that Lululemon is not employing forced laborers.  When I’m looking for athletic wear, this may be my new go-to.  Yes, you have to dig, but it should be there!  The wording may be different from site to site making it even harder to find.  To go a little further, you can check out Lululemon’s score on Know the Chain which shows how companies measure up in their compliance. Here is Lululemon’s score

Then I chose a company that had a low score at Know the Chain, Prada.  I scoured that website and while I found some really cool sunglasses, I  could find no mention of their practices. Even though I found nothing, it doesn’t mean they used forced labor, its just that they are not in compliance with the law which could result in penalties. (If you find something, let us know!)  Further research is needed by looking at their annual reports  or writing to the company.

A recent survey of western consumers revealed that people would be willing to pay extra for products they could identify as being made under good working conditions. Would you?  If we make our voices heard that we prefer to buy from companies that have a zero-tolerance for using forced labor, then it will encourage companies to comply and strengthen their efforts to eradicated slavery. This is a way for companies to bolster sales, enhance relationships with consumers and maintain brand loyalty.  The best way to be heard is with our dollars!  Let’s put our money where are hearts are!

This is one solid way to find out about the products we purchase.  Though this reporting isn’t perfect. Language is vague on websites and there is a lot of clicking to find what you’re looking for.  And I’ve heard stories how factories fool inspectors by playing a certain song over the loudspeaker to signal taking all the underaged children out the back door to avoid detection.  It is not perfect. But I feel its a start.  This is a way to begin my journey of being more informed.

A friend who has four growing kids asked, How can I clothe this brood using only Fair Trade goods when the cost is so much higher?  She has the heart but not the finances.  I get that!  Next post I’ll explore others ways we can learn to become a more Compassionate Consumer that will fit most budgets.

 

Thanks for hanging with me on this heady topic. All this research is making me weary!  I think I need a cup of coffee and a bit of chocolate.  All Fair Trade, of course!

Would love to hear in the comments your thoughts so far!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave