Fair trade update: A place to start.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have started digging further into the issue of fair trade and am excited to share with you what I learned from Liana, the National Organizer at SweatFree Communities.

I emailed Liana with a barrage of questions that basically boiled down to how do I even begin?

And this is what she had to say:

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Hi Sara,

Glad to hear that you are asking these big questions.

Here are a few links to some info that you may find relevant:

Shop with a Conscience Guide


On that page you can click the link to read about "our criteria". To see what information we ask from the companies, you can check the application we ask them to fill out.


This is a project for rating companies: http://free2work.org/

We haven't updated our Hall of Shame lately but do check out our ratings at Free2Work, which we are keeping up-to-date as best we can. (Free2Work and SweatFree Communities are both projects of the International Labor Rights Forum, in case you were wondering about the relationship).

Also check these stories from our blog:



You could also check some of our reports:


This is from another organization, but thought you might be interested:


In response to your question about "what can one person do": I think there are many things an individual can do. For one, writing online to educate others is a great thing to do. We also welcome folks to publicize our latest reports and urgent action alerts through blogs, social media sites, etc. You could also do your own investigative research and publicize what you learn. Another great way to be active is through organizing. Our major focus is to encourage cities, counties and other public entities to adopt sweatshop-free purchasing policies for the apparel they buy with our tax dollars (for ex. public employee uniforms). That way the impact is more than just a pair of jeans or t-shirt that you buy -- you can affect bulk purchases and policy.

Let me know if you'd like to chat on the phone.

Best regards,


* * * * *
I encourage you all to check out the above information. Here are my thoughts:

-I have yet to dive into the reports, but I did look into the other sources she mentioned and was so glad I did!

-To be honest, the Shop with a Conscience Guide, while awesome, is not that realistic for me at this time. I support a local store with a similar idea called Ten Thousand Villages and love it!...but right now, I am more focused on mainstream companies and knowing where to buy my groceries, my T-shirts, and other day-to-day items (on a newly married, we-both-work-in-education, budget).

-Really interested in this project.  I've heard murmurings of the Not for Sale campaign and would like to know more, so it was awesome to see that the Free2Work campaign is not only the exact kind of "mainstream company rating system" I was looking for, but is also a joint project between the Not For Sale Campaign and International Labor Rights Forum (learn more about them here). Basically, you search specific products and/or brands and see how/if they support modern-day slavery. It's worth checking out. In fact, in the organic spirit of this project, I think they will be my next contact as I want to know more. So stay tuned.

-This project gave me a chuckle.

-Finally, mostly, this experience so far has been really encouraging thanks to Liana. It's amazing what one person can do by simply responding to one request. In this age of business, it really means a lot to feel valued and it makes me want to dig into this topic even further. So thanks again, Liana!

p.s. For the record, I did also email Ethix Merch and am still awaiting a reply.

p.s.s. If you have any resources that you find valuable, PLEASE share. I would love it.


Anonymous said...

Good luck with your niche. I wish you the best.

Sara said...

Thank you!

lauren said...

I love your letter and love that you're tackling this issue for yourself and all of us.

I keep growing more convinced that there's nothing you can't do.

Sara said...

ohh you...;)

This is actually a really encouraging, exciting project so far!