Thursday, February 23, 2012

lots to learn

I really need to educate myself a lot more about the economics behind fair trade, free trade, and the global economy as it relates to labor slavery.

So... here's my free time for the next five weeks:

Some of these were recommended to me.  Others just looked interesting. Have you read any of these books?  Do you have any thoughts about them... or other book recommendations on these topics?

In other news of the day, Home Depot apparently doesn't carry any light bulbs made in the USA.  That's disappointing.  The employees were extremely helpful and willing to call supervisors to inquire for me though.  (Yeah, I just became one of those people.)  I think I'll visit a few more stores before I resort to lighting candles.

Monday, February 13, 2012

loving chocolate

It's been well documented that the cocoa farming industry has tons of issues with regards to child labor and trafficking.  Uggghhh.  

Protest, but don't despair, O chocolate lovers! Hershey just announced that they will FINALLY be offering a version of their Bliss brand chocolate that is 100% from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms beginning later this year.  It's a step. In the meantime, there are other companies that are actually committed to investigating their supply chain and providing ethically sourced chocolate. 

Here are just a few:

Sorry if this is slanted slightly towards dark chocolate. It's a weakness. :) Several of the above are available at Whole Foods (where I just tried Chocolove for the first time a few days ago. YUM!). Henhouse and HyVee carry quite a few Newman's Own products. I've heard that Trader Joe's also has some good options. 

Chocolate labeled "Fair-Trade" is probably the best way to be sure you're not supporting slavery, but buying organic chocolate is a pretty good guarantee as well since US companies go through a very detailed process to be certified organic.

Happy Valentine's Day and all that. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I have 47 slaves working for me

That's crazy.
It may not be a perfect calculation, and they might not be my full-time personal slaves, but isn't even one a slave too many? As the world is now, it's next to impossible to be 100% "slave free," but we can definitely reduce our dependence on slavery by paying attention to our purchases.  Go find out how many slaves are working for you and take a few minutes to check out the methodology they use.

They also have a "take action" app you can download for iphone or android.  Because, of course, consumer driven action is the important part.  I just downloaded it, so I don't have a review, but I love the concept.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

the project

Who made this stuff?
Was it a 7-year-old kid who should be in school learning to read?  Was it a dad who never sees his family because he lives at the factory?  Was it a political prisoner in a restrictive nation?  Was it a slave? I wonder about these things when I’m buying Christmas lights and my tenth pair of flip-flops.

I’ll be honest.  I like cheap, cute stuff. I like Target clearance.  I like Snickers bars just about as much as any expensive Swiss chocolate you can throw at me.  I’m not rich by American standards.  I’ll probably never spend $200 on a pair of jeans. My wedding dress didn’t even cost that much.

Nevertheless, I am rich.  I’m a stinking rich American consumer when compared to most of the world.  I have more than I need.  I make purchasing choices almost every day that are above and beyond basic necessity, and I want to start thinking about those choices as they relate to a world bigger than myself.

For this next year (yeah, I never start anything on January 1, sorry), these are my personal shopping guidelines:

1. Buy it used/shop thrift
            [saves me money + great for the environment = win]
2. Buy local and/or handmade
            [support my community + support individuals and small businesses]
3. Buy “made in the USA”
[Not always a guarantee of fair labor or environmental practices, BUT, far more of a guarantee than “made in China.”  And who can argue with supporting those businesses that create US jobs?]
4. Buy from businesses that advertise their fair labor/fair trade practices or social business model
         [Being good for people IS a good business plan.  I want to support this.]
5. Don’t buy it
            [“Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do or do without.” 
            If my grandma could do it, I can too.]

So why this blog place?
It’s true; I could do all of the above without a blog. My hope is that this will be a year of discovering great new places to shop (online and off), finding quality organizations to support, and gathering new knowledge about economics and human rights.  It’s no fun if you don’t have anyone with whom to share these tidbits. I hope I get a few readers.  If not, well… at least I’ll have a journal of a small adventure. 


P.S. I’m praying my computer doesn’t break this year, guys.  I don’t know what I’ll do.