It is not foolproof, nor is it 100% pure but it is a step in the right direction and it is also environmentally friendly. Let's rationalize it:
1. Second Hand Stores
Used clothing stores' production line is you. If it is Salvation Army or Goodwill, you donate the items. If it is Buffalo Exchange or some other designer used clothing store they will buy your best items from you and sell them for their own profit. They do their business right there next to or across from the cash register in plain sight, no secrets. If you decide you don't want to part with your items, you don't have to. There is no force, no coercion, no debt bondage and no sweat shops. The best part about it, from a consumer's perspective, is that it is all cute, trendy clothes that are already shrunk and worn in so there are no surprises after that first wash. Buying at second hand stores does not directly support human trafficking. Indirectly it is more than likely true that your purchased goods were tainted by some shading business dealings in their first life, but once they are placed in a second hand store, your business supports the store and potential charities and nothing else.
Here is the link for Buffalo Exchange: http://www.buffaloexchange.com/index.php Find locations near you and read their "How it Works" link for more information.
2. Local Farmers Markets
I admit, I should have researched this a bit before I wrote this, so I will only make empty assumptions for now. From an environmental perspective, it is better because it cuts down on emissions in domestic or international transport. You will have to sacrifice the seasonal savories, sorry strawberry lovers, but in the face of the great sacrifice that the natural world is being compelled into, it is rather trivial that our desires must wait. From a human trafficking perspective, you can never really be sure what goes on behind closed doors. I would encourage you to ask where the produce is coming from and who plants and picks it, but their word is all you can rely on. In my opinion, it is much more difficult for an independent farmer to lie straight to his or her customer's facefor than it is for a large corporation to lie to a faceless consumer base. I will not rule out the possibility though, I know that humans are capable of really horrific things, but this is a positive blog so I will leave that out for now. Bottom line: an independent, local farmer cannot evade the law and truth as easily as a large corporation and my guess is he or she will be less willing to jeapordize their business with shady business. But don't just assume that. Ask, build relationships with the people, humanize them and I promise the worst thing that could happen would be an awkward conversation.
Here is a great website to help you locate famers' markets near you in the US: http://www.localharvest.org/
That's all for now. Remember to act in love always, and not just the warm fuzzy love, but also the love that hurts and calls you to be compassionate in the face of great pain and rejection. Wait...what was it again that Jesus did?