Monday, October 25, 2010

End Slave Labor: Buy Used, Buy Local

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: 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:

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?


  1. I'm feeling mixed about this because of what I've read in my Geography course about how paying work (that's not forced/slavery) actually elevates the status of women in many third world communities, especially when they can then afford to send their sons and daughters to school. How is cutting all opportunities for these people to try and make money by never buying anything from their countries truly helping them, isn't that just keeping them isolated from the inevitable globalization taking place, and therefore offering them ways out of poverty other then selling their women and children?

  2. sorry last sentence should read something like "isn't that just keeping them isolated from the inevitable globalization taking place, and therefore preventing them from accessing out of poverty other then selling their women and children?

  3. Thank you for your input, I really appreciate it. I will think more on it. Could you please send me your source on that information? I would really like to look into it. For now, I do want you to understand that I'm not saying we should ace out developing and third world nations, but more that we should be responsible and conscious consumers and demand that the corporations that we support be held accountable to labor laws and basic human rights all the way down there production line. Unfortunately at this point in my research, I do not have reliable data to allow me to comfortably support one company over another. I am in the process of investigating that and will be writing about it in the future, among other things, so any direction you may have is welcomed.

    Other than that, beyond the argument of human trafficking, buying locally is heavily supported from an environmental perspective as well (especially if you ride your bike!) which I'm sure your geography professor should have a thing or two to say about. If not, ask my oceanography professor. Clive Dorman.

  4. All it takes to understand my point is to recognize that victims of trafficking are for the very vast majority, extremely impoverished people. Keeping your money completely out of their economies is not going to protect trafficking victims, it's going to reduce people's abilities to tap into ways to make a living BEFORE they find themselves or their children enslaved out of financial desperation.

    (another blogger describing this very topic)
    The rest of her blog is devoted to ways of fighting human trafficking through the economics of business

    While I agree with you that buying locally and used is ideal environmentally, and I do those things for these reasons, I don't think this is necessarily a way to help combat human trafficking in any meaningful way. Buying fair trade products, writing letters to companies insisting that they take care to make sure their products are slave-labor free, being willing to pay more for fair trade goods recognizing that our conumption of cheap goods is part of the problem as profit margins get too small to pay people fairly. There's lots of ways our buying power can help fight trafficking short of depriving other impoverished countries from sharing in our massive wealth we have here in the priviledged west.

  5. Thanks! I will look into it and I will write something about it but probably not for a couple of weeks. Let's be honest, probably a month but only because I do want to look deeper into this.

    Like I said, I think it is extremely important to be a responsible and concsious consumer which would entail what you are saying about sending letters to companies and buying fair trade. As for fair trade companies, it is especially crucial that we remain vigilant and hold them accountable to their stated mission.

    Thank you very much for your input, I really do appreciate it and will take the time to respond to it in the future. Also, thank you for your individual effort to combat human trafficking.