Archives: October 2011
Posted on October 30, 2011 by admin
by Jill Robinson
Halloween has been well into a few days of celebration leading up to the official Oct.31 holiday, but there is still time to take stock of what you are handing out to co-workers or trick-or-treaters in the form of chocolate. It may be unthinkable that the chocolate we enjoy could come from the hands of children working as slaves. In Ivory Coast and other cocoa-producing countries, there are an estimated 100,000 children working the fields, many against their will, to create the chocolate delicacies enjoyed by Western countries.
In addition to the very illegality of trafficking and hiring children workers, the cocoa farmers subject the children to inhumane living conditions with inconceivable work hours, with no pay and little to eat (often times only giving the children corn paste as their only meal). Want to enjoy your chocolate without supporting slave and child labor? Here are a few ways to make sure you are supporting fair trade practices instead of terrifying work environments for artisans and their children around the world.
- Find locations that sell fair trade chocolate and products (kind of a no-brainer). The Greenheart Shop is proud of their fair trade chocolate selection.
- Participate in events like Reverse Trick-or-Treating and inform your community on child slave labor in the chocolate industry.
- Voice your opinion and sign the petition to Raise the Bar and push Hershey to take responsibility on where their products are sourced.
You can make a difference: buy fair trade chocolate and end child and slave labor in the cocoa industry and empower farmers around the globe.
Posted on October 15, 2011 by admin
by Kimberly Berls, Director of E-Commerce for Greenheart Shop
Every time we shop, we can find a sticker or a label in tiny, black typeface that states: “Made in China,” or “Made in India,” or made in some other country we might not even be able to locate on the map. It’s hard to feel a personal connection to the individuals who created these products, or what their work conditions are like from half way around the world. We all know that many of these everyday items were produced in sweatshops or factories – we’ve heard it on the news. But what many people aren’t aware of is that oftentimes (in certain industries) these sweatshops, already horrific in their work conditions, are also filled with children that are either too young to be working or were sold into slavery.
More than 100,000 children are sold each year as slaves to work on cocoa farms in West Africa. As a devout chocolate lover, that really takes the joy out of eating conventional chocolate. This tragedy isn't only found within the chocolate industry. Did you know that hundreds of thousands of children are trapped in forced labor in the carpet and rug making industry in South Asia?
These are just a few examples of unacceptable working conditions. In the U.S., we take for granted that we have laws that define minimum wage, enforce safe working conditions and prohibit child labor. For many across the world, however, these rights are nonexistent.
So what IS fair trade? The principles of fair trade are:
- Guarantees producers a living wage for their work
- Builds long term relationships between producers and buyers
- Engages in environmentally sustainable practices
- Empowers women and provides equal employment opportunities for all, especially the most disadvantaged
- Provides healthy and safe working conditions
- Ensures transparency and accountability
Nowadays we hear the word “sustainability” thrown about a lot. What does sustainability really mean? I am personally, strongly opposed to handouts; I live by the proverb “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach him to fish, he eats his whole life.” And that’s why I’m so passionate about my job working for fair trade. Fair trade is not about charity. It is not about handouts. It’s a market-based approach to change, and to giving small producers abroad and here at home the opportunity to trade on ethical terms. Therefore, the change created by fair trade partnerships is sustainable.
Fair trade gives the cocoa producer in Ghana, who DOESN’T employ children, and who DOESN’T pollute the earth, the opportunity to sell his cocoa to U.S. consumers. Eco Fair trade gives a rug producer in Thailand who uses no forced labor and natural non-toxic dyes a market to sell his goods in the United States. Are these products more expensive than conventional products you find in Walmart or Target? Sure. At the moment. But as the movement grows and the volume increases, prices fall, making fair trade choices more and more affordable for everyone.
As consumers, we have a choice with every purchase we make, and the strongest vote we have is with our dollars. Every purchase we make has an impact on the earth. When I buy a dress from Gap that’s made in China, I vote for Chinese labor practices. Now, I’m not saying that we should feel guilty every time we buy something that isn’t fair trade – certainly we all have to balance our choices. But I know that I have an alternative choice – and for the same price as that dress from Gap made in China, I could purchase an organic cotton, fair trade dress made in India by a woman who works in safe conditions, and was able to send her kids to school from the income she earned making that dress. For me, I like knowing that I have that choice, and that I choose fair trade when I can.
This post was posted in About Greenheart, Fair Trade and was tagged with About Greenheart, Child Labor, chocolate industry, consumer choice, fair trade, kimberly berls, labor practices, rug and carpet industry, sustainability, sweatshops
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