This is, ashamedly I admit, the first Christmas that I have been mindful of where the things I am buying come from. As I buy gifts or enjoy a meal out or look forward to festivities to come, I can’t help now but think of where the products I am using are from, what they are made of, who made them, what that person/those people are doing now, how they were treated when making them…
A useful and startling resource in this is the http://www.productsofslavery.org/ website. On it you will find highlighted the countries whose sold products are made using child or forced labour, and a list of these products as well as short summaries of the situations surrounding these. A gruelling read, it reminds me of just how much unfair and unethical labour is happening in our world.
It is impossible to trace everything back and I do not intend to become someone who avoids buying things because of the fear of buying something with a ‘slave mark’ on it. Rather, I believe that there are brands out there who are actively working against using forced labour or associating with other forms of trafficking, the following and encouraging of which will help reduce modern day slavery.
One such business is The Body Shop. I was so impressed at the service and the quality of the products during a ‘stocking filler shop’ earlier this week; but more than that, I believe that what they are doing in their social justice awareness and actions is outstanding. The pioneers of ‘Community Trade’, they aim to responsibly source all of their ingredients. They look to respect the earth and its fruit as well as treat the people all the way throughout the production chain fairly and ethically:
”We ask all our suppliers to sign the Code of Conduct which supports our Ethical Trade Programme, developed to improve conditions for all workers in the supply chain and to uphold their human rights. This code is strictly enforced and monitored to ensure standards are met regarding child labour, discrimination, and employee pay, hours and working conditions.”
The Body Shop also fights to stop child sex trafficking, with their ‘STOP sex trafficking of children and young people’ campaign, which ”aims to raise awareness of the scale of the issue, raise funding for vulnerable children and young people, and inspire those with decision-making power to effect change.”
We so often feel powerless in the face of such a great evil: my suggestion is that the power is in our hands to be responsible buyers, especially this Christmas. Look out for brands committed to ethical and fair standards for all, and get us one step closer to ending modern day slaver