Responsible Consumerism

We can all make a difference through our purchases. Whether in our home or business, buying ethically produced products is an important step in preventing and ending human trafficking.

Responsible consumerism begins with an understanding that the products we buy and invest in affect the quality of life of people around the world.  In today’s global society, there are services and products that are made both ethically and unethically, including slave labor (or labor trafficking).  In order to be a responsible consumer, it is important to choose companies that not only care about human rights but also actively monitor the impact of their decisions on people, whether directly within their business or to the businesses to which they outsource.  By supporting businesses who do not depend upon forced labor, we allow them to grow, thrive, and employ more people in an ethical work environment. There are currently a couple of different ways to assess organizations’ commitment to basic human rights such as a “fair” wage and treatment of its employees.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility and Conscious Capitalism

It is important to look for and buy from companies that have a strong commitment to human rights through their code of corporate responsibility, usually found on their company website.  Whether buying clothing, jewelry, food, electronics, transportation, first consider the company from which you are buying these goods.  As human rights is a very concerning topic and one that the industries are finding more and more about, if a company is committed to human rights in their business practices, it should be evident on their corporate website; look for a link on their website to a section on social responsibility or human rights.  The Free2Work website is also an excellent resource to see how companies are rated: www.free2work.org

Social Responsibility is a concept that is currently growing in scope, as we continue to grow in our understanding of the complexities of modern world economics and how we, as consumers and businesses can best utilize our resources for the good and not exploitation of basic human rights standards of people around the world.

 

Fair Trade Certification

One of the goals of Fair Trade certification on products is to guarantee that no forced or child labor was used in creating a product and employees were paid promptly and fairly.  Fair Trade labeling also assesses the level of safe and empowering working conditions and protects the rights of children.  Support Fair Trade by buying products with Fair Trade Labels and/or from businesses that boast a strong commitment to human rights and social responsibility.  Note:  The fair trade standards are currently being evaluated by the fair trade community and human rights organizations, as it is important that though certain organizations are being certified, it’s also critical that the standards of certification are high enough to truly ensure the principles of fair trade are adequately carried out.

The two best ways for consumers to be informed are through corporate responsibility statements, reports, and awards and fair trade labeling.  Be sure to check your local markets for these items, especially chocolate, coffee, tea, fruit, vegetables, etc. Check out our list of recommended resources on the left side panel of this page.  

 

Labor Trafficking

Forced labor slavery uses deception, threats or violence to coerce someone to work for little to no pay. Although slavery has been outlawed in nearly every country, millions of men, women and children are working as slaves, including in the United States. (IJM.org)   The Department of Labor estimates that there are 115 million children worldwide in forced labor and children below the age of 18 years represent between 40 to 50% of all forced labor victims.  Based on a list from the Department of Labor, the top products that are most likely to be made or harvested by forced labor or child labor are: cocoa, coffee, tea, rice, sugarcane, tobacco, carpets, cotton, garments, gold, diamonds, coal, bricks and many others.

Another source of concern is that certain materials that are used to produce common products, such as many electronics, jewelry, etc. are sourced from areas in conflict where violence, coercion, and poverty are rampant – otherwise known as conflict minerals.

If you work for a company or organization that is committed to implementing human rights at all levels of your business procedures, we would love to connect with you.  Please contact Jessica Willis at Jessica@rvaji.com for additional information.

Would you like for an RJI representative to come and speak at your organization or business?  Click here to fill out a speaker request form.  We look forward to hearing from you!