Thursday, July 30, 2009

HTP and Team Up: Slavery-Free Product Challenge

The Reality: Slaves are making the goods we as consumers buy. Human Trafficking Project blogger Jenn Kimball and I addressed the issue of slavery being used to make the products we buy this month. And now, we’re challenging you to do something about it.

Increasingly, there are a number of tools we as consumers can use to find the most slave-free items on the market. As of yet, there is no 100% guaranteed slave-labor-free label, but there are some guidelines you can use.

  • Fair Trade: A Fair Trade label indicates that the item was produced sustainably and that workers were paid a living wage to produce it. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee slave-free supply chains, however.

  • Made in the USA: We all know people are trafficked in the U.S., but better labor regulations and higher wages mean that fewer factories full of trafficked workers are operating in the U.S. than in some developing nations.

  • Ethically Produced/Sustainable: Unlike “Fair Trade” and “Made in the USA,” phrases like ethically produced, ethically sourced, and sustainable don’t have certified criteria associated with them. They can sometimes be an indicator, however, of a company that’s paying attention to its supply chain.

  • Country of Production: Some countries have had a longer history of slavery in certain industries, so knowing common forms of labor trafficking in different countries may help you avoid buying products from that industry made in that country.

The Challenge: Find the 10 most slave-free ways to acquire the items below (you don’t actually need to buy them). Where would you buy them? What brands would you choose? What labels or guidelines would you use to make better consumer choices? Here’s my list, and you can read Jenn’s list over on my blog:

1. Football

2. Chocolate bar

3. Underwear

4. MP3 Player

5. Pencil

6. Strawberries

7. Lipstick/Lip gloss

8. Pillow

9. Water bottle

10. Wallet

Post your finds to the comments section of this blog.

The Reward: The person who comes up with the best, most creative list of the most slave-free sources will be published and credited on both blogs. Plus, you’ll help inspire other consumers to make better choices about the items they buy.

While we may not have a 100% slave-free guarantee as consumers, we can make a lot of choices that go a long way to ending human trafficking just by buying the right items.

-Post written by's Amanda Kloer


  1. nice work . . fair trade are progressed your business of any stream . .
    online eco shop

  2. Our organization, FightSlaveryNow.Org, has been investigating products untainted by modern-day slavery in order to choose a worthy recipient on whom to bestow our "Freedom Seal". Since we had a head start on many of these product categories, I thought this would be a challenge easily met. It was not. But it has been fun and enlightening. First, it engendered a lively discussion of what is meant by 'Free Trade' and the merits and limitations of that designation. As one site noted: "Bringing about fairness is not easy, and will need much more substantial change than our merely choosing a different brand of coffee..."
    Additionally we learned a lot about some products not readily associated with slave labor, such as flowers and lip gloss. For some products it was easy to find a large selection of Fair Trade alternatives, while for other products there were few or none.

    For the most part we have tried to 'spread the love' and offer a wide variety of websites rather than falling back on a few mega-sites offering many of the items on your lists. We have also tried to steer readers to the original makers where possible. Secondary criteria in our selections, beside being 'Fair Trade' or otherwise presumed to be slave free, were eco-sustainability and freedom from animal cruelty. Hence leather wallets were not considered as many other innovative choices were found. In the case of similar products, we tried to chose those venders who seemed to have the most worthwhile charitable need, or the most progressive company policy for supporting social justice issues.

    As with many sourcing issues, there is nothing better than supporting your local craftspersons, farmers, and merchants. Ask about the materials involved and if applicable, about the labor practices that attend production. This has the double benefit of raising awareness about these issues, and expanding the market for slave-free sustainable goods by showing your concern. We noticed overwhelmingly that many of these sites are based in Britain. They seem to be far more developed than us in addressing the market for Fair Trade goods. It's time we caught up!

    Thanks to both Jenn Kimball and Amanda Kloer for your wonderful and informative work, and for bringing us this eye-opening challenge.

    Peace and Justice...
    Avra Cohen
    Assistant Organizer, Fight Slavery Now! (

  3. First, to put these choices in context, we must ask "What is "Fair trade"? These pages examine the issues.

    Here is the shopping list:

    1. Couch: close...
    closer... bingo:...

    2. Stereo:

    3. TV: Well, almost...

    4. Flowers:
    This product provoked some interesting controversy...
    Why I won't be giving my mother Fairtrade flowers:

    5. Rug:

    6. Lamp:

    7. Rice:

    8. Curtains:>

    9. Coffee Table:

    10. Coffee:

    good site with links:
    and of course, available also from Change.Org, Veronica's Cup...

    Honorable mention: For the widest array we found of Fair Trade products from peanut butter, tahini, and coconut beer, to underwear,
    socks, and baby bibs!
    Ethical Superstore...

  4. Challange #2 from the Human Trafficking Project: Ten More

    1. Football: Oh! Did you mean American 'footballs'? This is a premier fair trade sporting goods site:

    2. Chocolate bar: Here we have many tasty choices, but for the pioneers in this field go to the world's first slave free chocolate bar...
    and another delicious socially conscious chocolate maker...

    3.Underwear: Lots of choices... Our favorite...
    Runner up:
    Hands down best video (Eco-boudoir, More Than Pretty Knickers) along with Top Ten:

    4.MP3 Player: This is IT...

    Of course you will also need a pencil box:
    And a sharpener:

    6. Strawberries: Interesting question here about fair trade vs. 'food miles'....
    We favor supporting your local greenmarket and ideally joining the Community Supported Agriculture movement:
    Most fair trade items for strawberries are for jams and preserves. Aside from that, this seems to be the definitive site for information on fair trade fresh fruit:
    If you can, tear up a piece of useless lawn and plant something edible!
    After all is said and done, our First Choice: ie=UTF8&node=42966030&m=A2BO0OYVBKIQJM&keywords=strawberry&mnSBrand=core&size=9&rh=&page=>

  5. 7. Lipstick/Lip gloss:

    8. Pillow: Again, no shortage of contenders. These won on being visually striking...
    But some our female members liked this choice a lot...

    9. Water bottle: Too many good choices! We chose this company for the product, the value, and the overall philosophy:
    and related item:

    10. Wallet: Again, so many good choices here. But these craftspeople seem especially worthy...
    Other innovative contenders:

    and for EXTRA CREDIT...
    11. Sneakers:

    12. USB Drive:
    And lastly... a challenge for you and your readers: Who will make the first slave-free mobile phone? 'Blood tantalum' in your mobile phone: War, Murder, Rape... All for Your Cell Phone:

    Peace, Justice, and Freedom... Avra