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It’s that time of the year again- the most wonderful season of giving! It can be tough to find a balance between our desire to give good gifts that our loved ones will enjoy and researching and purchasing items that are ethically produced or manufactured. What’s an activist to do to find the best of both worlds?
Here are several tips for you to make the most of your gift giving this season — slave free.
1.) Purchase Fair Trade-Certified Items. One of the largest networks of slave-free, ethical, and environmentally friendly produced goods, Fair Trade links the international marketplace to you in a life-respecting and dignifying manner. All laborers and producers are paid wages that do not undermine their skill sets and allow them to sustain themselves. Fair Trade partners on a local level worldwide to build relationships with the people they are assisting.
2.) Shop at retailers that have committed themselves to fair labor and trade practices. Recently, the community against human trafficking has mobilized as a whole to get retailers to examine their supply chains and the slavery that plagues them. Thankfully, many brand names have expressed their concern and concerted effort to fight slavery all over the world.
Free2Work offers information about companies that have been intentional in cleaning up their supply chains in all sorts of industries ranging from apparel to consumer electronics. Chain Store Reaction offers a similar list if you would like more options.
3.) Donate to an anti-slavery organization in the name of somebody you love. Make your gift recipient feel warm and fuzzy inside by donating to a non-profit organization that is working to end modern slavery. Your gift may just save a life! There are plenty of great groups you can make a contribution to — check out the Action on the Ground Map to see their projects around the world.
4.) Personally handcraft your gifts. In the spirit of Pinterest, why not try to make your own gifts? There are plenty of treasurables you can make on your own that are easy, simple, and beautiful. Not to mention the money you will save! Handmade gifts are often times more sentimental than anything you can purchase at a store anyway, so this season, try to make your loved ones feel extra loved by adding some of your own TLC to their present. You’ll know exactly who created and manufactured your gift, ensuring that no slaves were used in the process of producing your keepsake. There’s no limit to what you can create: picture frames, paper mache, delicious food, the list goes on! Get Pinspired and check our their Do-It-Yourself Crafts board!
5.) Buy local. If you’re short on time or simply don’t want to make your own gifts, try checking out a local artisans fair or bazaar to buy locally crafted goodies for friends and family. Chances are, you can actually meet the person who made your item and even converse with them. This guarantees that your product is slave-free, and helps bolster your local economy and the artistic community!
6.) Buy used. Another great way to avoid slave labor in supply chains is to buy used. Even if the items bought were originally manufactured under unfavorable conditions, remember that buying used cuts down the current demand for more slave-handled products. Buying used tells a manufacturer that you do not want to support slave-made goods any further and that you can make do with what you already have. Consider shopping at a local Good-Will or Salvation Army who work in conjunction with the local community to help those in need. And, it wouldn’t hurt to save a few bucks as well!
The holiday season can be a stressful time for all of us as the pressure to give great gifts accumulates faster than we can imagine. Lets’s not forget that in this season of love and family, that we as consumers have been blessed immeasurably. Let’s share these blessings by making direct and intentional steps to help those afflicted outside of our community and celebrating the most wonderful time of the year slave-free. ~Michelle Cho
The trial spanned over a six-year period and brought justice for six girls who were trafficked on the same street of bars. The trafficker received a life sentence in jail and is required to make compensatory measures to the victims affected. The courtroom was filled with anticipation, and tears of joy and relief were shed over the guilty verdict.
What does this mean for the larger anti-slavery community? It means that our hard work is paying off and victims are being rescued on a more consistent basis. It means that we are seeing the fruit of our labor and are changing people’s lives. It also means that traffickers will get the signal that their crimes will not go unpunished and they cannot continue to act with impunity.
The fight is not only overseas however. Sex trafficking also occurs in the United States every day. Here are some places you may see sex trafficking domestically:
• massage parlors
• Internet ads
• residential brothels
• street prostitution
• hostess & strip clubs
• escort services
• truck stops
One useful way that you can join us in the fight is by saving the number of your national hotline in your cell phone: in the U.S. it’s 1-888-3737-888. Specialists are always on call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. All reports are confidential and can be taken from anywhere in the States to report potential trafficking victims, suspicious behaviors, and/or locations where trafficking is suspected to occur. Translators are available!
Wherever you are, from Washington D.C. to Manila in the Philippines, stay alert and celebrate that we are gaining momentum in convicting traffickers worldwide! ~Michelle Cho
One of the most basic ways to generate awareness and to draw attention to the fight against modern day slavery is simply to talk about it. Conversations are really important in explaining to your friends and family that you care about a cause and that they should to. Think about it. If everybody who cared about trafficking told just two of the people they love about their passion for human trafficking, the amount of activists in our world would triple. So how should you casually strike up a thought-engaging conversation with someone you know?
1. Share that slavery still exists.
This exchange is a perfect example of a simple and easy way to start talking to someone. Most people don’t know that slavery still exists. The culture we live in has always taught us that slavery was abolished once and for all with the Emancipation Proclamation. Let your friends know that this is not the case and that slavery still exists in all of its forms (labor, sexual, military, etc.) today
2. Share basic statistics.
Using numbers to explain how real and active human trafficking in our world is, is a great way to grab someone’s attention. Numbers don’t have to be hard and confusing- keep it simple and short. Here are some ones that you can use:
Remember to use these responsibly and don’t embellish!
3. Share why you are interested in the cause.
Giving a personal testimony as to what drew you to the cause and in what ways you are contributing to the fight is another fantastic way of connecting with others. The people you talk to care about you. They want to know why you are involved and why you are actively taking a stance. Sharing on an authentic level can encourage those you talk to follow suit and take interest as well.
4. Share the universality of human trafficking.
Because trafficking is proliferating at such an alarming rate, as citizens and consumers in our modern day world, it is nearly impossible to escape the slave trade completely. The products we buy, the food we eat, the places we go- all of these aspects of our lives have usually passed through a number of slaves to reach us. Pointing out that our consumerism and material culture drive the slave trade further, can bring a new level of consciousness to our actions. Let your friends know about Fair Trade and the slave-free, sustainable options they have when purchasing goods such as coffee or even clothing. Encourage family to shop at thrift stores where new items processed by corrupt companies can be avoided. Or make plans with a pal to craft something yourself so that you know your product is truly slave free.
Of course there are several other ways to start serious dialogue about modern day slavery, but keep these tips at the forefront of your mind the next time you have the opportunity to share with someone you know. Global awareness is truly the first step in shining light and bringing justice to this crime that still continues to impact millions every day. ~Michelle Cho
How many slaves work for you? This atypical question would seem outside the realm of normal conversation and, in some cases, offensive. Shockingly enough, this query is relevant to every consumer. Products come from somewhere, and are produced and processed by someone or other entity; but as consumers, we seldom stop to contemplate these questions. The reality: 27 million people are enslaved with a majority forced into labor to contribute to products we buy. Due to lack of transparency, we are often unaware of such realities. Once we can understand how consumers contribute both willingly and unwillingly to slavery, we can begin to further fuel the abolitionist movement.
Slavery Footprint is an innovative matrix rating system that will answer the daunting, yet very real question: How many slaves do you own? Justin Dillon, a world-renowned abolitionist, has played a significant role in the development of the Slavery Footprint system.
Justin is a musician—as part of the band Tremolo—and director of Call + Response, a documentary that reveals the secrets behind the booming human trafficking industry. The film and movement aims to provide “opportunities to act and engage through mobile phones and online platforms,” according to the Call + Response website. With the help of well-known abolitionists, celebrities, and other musicians, Call + Response has turned its vision into a reality—stimulating the abolitionist movement with aspiration, value, and action.
Justin explains that Slavery Footprint “connects the dots” through helping consumers understand how they contribute to slavery. Through a comprehensive combination of synthesized reports that account for over 400 products and an algorithm that uses data separated by country, the amount of slaves it takes to produce a specific product can be estimated. Interested consumers take a short, online survey to reveal the amount of slaves it takes to maintain their lifestyle purchases. The results enable people to be a part of the solution, leveraging consumption to make a difference. With popular information and mobile technologies, this system will be easily accessible and usable.
The inception of this revolutionary tool was inspired by ideas generated from the U.S. Department of State. The State Department sought out assistance from Call + Response to create and implement the Slavery Footprint. Justin declares the State Department’s innovative and open effort, “A great mark of courage.” Since its inception, Call + Response has made the construction of this revolutionary tool a collaborative effort—bringing together nonprofits and abolitionist groups to strengthen the influence. On September 22, 1862, President Lincoln issued the first part of the Emancipation Proclamation. The release of Slavery Footprint on September 22, 2011 will further aid the fight against slavery, even centuries later.
Justin calls all consumers and activists to action. He reminds us of our two greatest assets: consumption and network. First, consumption can harness the strength of the market through directing purchases that support the abolitionist movement. Second, the power of one’s network can be accrued to influence others and spread truthful, understandable narratives. “Act often; act passionately,” Justin states. Often, we concentrate on problems and forget to celebrate. Justin challenges activist to “Celebrate every victory—that’s what will win the battle.” ~Kristin Steves