Fair trade update: Doesn't hurt to ask.

So remember that idea I had right before Christmas?

Well, I decided yesterday it was time to dive in.

I did a bit of browsing online and made a list of several companies I either a) really like and want affirmation that I indeed should support with a clear conscience OR b) feel like I should dislike but aren't really sure if those feelings are rooted in reality.

I covered a large Post-It note with ideas. I intended to pick my five and start researching company #1...but I just couldn't do it. I was too overwhelmed.

I decided to back up and gather more information. But how does one get a grasp on such a far-reaching issue?

Wait a minute, I thought. Why don't I just ask someone who actually knows something about this and let them guide me?

So I did.

I started with SweatFree Communities since I found their information useful when doing light research last December on which companies are currently in the doghouse due to human rights violations.

I emailed the first two people I found on their staff listing:

Bjorn and Liana,

In the last few years, I have been exploring the idea of social justice with respect to consumer responsibility.

I am 25 and have a lot to learn, but I do know that I need to learn more as ignorance may very well be bliss for me, but comes at a great cost to so many others.

I have a humble blog and have decided this year to dig further into this issue both for me and my husband as well as for any of my readers (which mostly consists of friends and family).

You can read more about my simple goals here, here and here. Basically, I have decided to pick 5 companies that I support with my dollar and research them with the lens of workers rights.

However, I could use some guidance. I found your organization online and have used your Sweatshop Hall of Shame as a stepping stone. I appreciate very much what you are doing as it is surprisingly difficult to even begin to delve into this issue with any detail.

What I want to know is this--how do I begin to fight this seemingly overwhelming beast of an issue? I am just one person. I am not rich. I do not have much power. But I do use my money to purchase things on a regular basis. I want to do that more responsibly. It would be my dream to offer a sort of "buy from here, not from here" kind of publication (taken from this book idea) to share with my small sphere of influence. I would like to find both companies to support and to avoid and how to send violating companies the message that their actions are unacceptable.

Where do I begin? Any advice for this novice? How does the common (wo)man fight such injustice on a middle class budget in a practical way?

I look forward to hearing from you and greatly appreciate any advice you have to offer.

Many thanks,


* * * * *

I've never written anyone about an issue like that since the third grade when my class had to write our representative to keep the salamander as the state amphibian (I'm serious.).

Anyway, I was kind of nervous about it. After all, I'm sure there are way more important things on Bjorn and Liana's to-do lists than respond to some random request from a girl like me.

But GUESS WHAT?! I got a response today! I'll share the results tomorrow.

BIG thanks to Liana from SweatFree Communities for doing what she does and for taking the time to engage and really respond and in doing so, restore a bit of confidence and hope on my end. Thank you.

...Got any good questions for me to throw out to the experts? I am listening.


briansBAblog said...

wow, that's really cool. i want to hear their response!

Sara said...

I'm glad you're interested, Brian! Be sure to check out the resources listed today and let me know what you think. :)

Carrie said...

I randomly stumbled on your blog and didn't read too much but I did see that you are interested in a book that makes purchasing comparisons. I'm not sure if you mention this in another posting of yours, but have you ever heard of Better World Shopping Guide? It ranks businesses in different categories (gas, wine, shampoo, etc) and gives them grades from A to F. Great little book to have in the car with you or pull out at a dinner party.
Sorry if I'm sharing info you already know...

Sara said...

Carrie--No I have not heard about it but I am definitely interested! Thanks for sharing...and for reading! :)