10 Things, Ethical Shopping

10 Ways for a Regular Person to Fight Modern Day Slavery

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It’s estimated that 27 million men, women, and children are living in slavery today.

You can do one of two things with that statement.  You can tell yourself, “I don’t own slaves,” and carry on with your life.  Or, you can make it personal.  You might not own slaves yourself, but do you ever wonder who’s sewing your clothes, picking your coffee and chocolate beans, and assembling your children’s toys?

But who are you?  You’re not a highly trained commando who can bust down doors, sling children over your shoulders, and run for safety.  The only time you’ve been in a court room is when you had that speeding ticket a few years ago.  What can you do to fight injustice?

Merriam-Webster defines stewardship as “the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something.”  As stewards here on this earth that we share, we have a responsibility to actively protect our fellow humans who cannot protect themselves.  We might not own slaves, but we own the goods they make and our consumerism fuels the demand for their labor.  If we all choose to protect and become responsible for the people living in slavery, we can change the world.  No matter what we do or who we are, we all can be abolitionists.

Here are 10 ways for a regular person to fight modern day slavery:

1. Find out your slavery footprint.  Visit this website and take the survey to find out how many slaves work for you providing the goods that you consume.  This website also provides great ideas to lower your slavery footprint and help those living in slavery.

2. Look up your favorite brands to see how they’re doing.  You can download the app on your phone and use it to scan barcodes while you’re shopping.

3. If one of the brands you love has issues with its supply chain, petition the company to make changes.  As a consumer, you have the power to be a catalyst for change.  Visit Made in a Free World for more information.

4. Buy less.  We want more and we want cheaper, but it comes at a cost.  Buy less, wear it longer and more often, downsize.

5. Buy products that help people, not hurt them.  For the last two years, I’ve challenged myself and my readers to have a “Slave-Free Christmas” and highlighted artisans, companies, and organizations whose products are pulling people out of poverty, sustainable and handmade, or bringing dignity back to the people who make them.  I had the best time hunting around for talented artisans who make stunning products from around the world, and our Christmas was truly special as each item that was unwrapped had a story and a person behind it.  All my favorites from last year are here and I’m working on this year’s Slave-Free spree, which will start in November.

6. Look for the fair trade label on coffee and chocolate.  This insures that the farmers who grew and picked those beans were paid a fair wage.

7. Get involved locally.  It’s easier to think about human trafficking happening in other parts of the world, but it’s happening right here at home, too.  Search for local organizations helping with rescue and aftercare and find out how you can partner with them to provide safety and justice right in your own town.

8. Spread awareness.  Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime today, and for too long it has thrived in the darkness.  Lend your voice to those who are voiceless.  Speak up for the victims living in darkness and secrecy.

9. Give.  End It Movement has assembled a list of organizations fighting modern day slavery around the world, from lawyers and investigators working to free the enslaved to counselors and social workers helping with aftercare for those who are rescued.

10. Pray for those in bondage.  Make it part of your family routine around the dinner table or at night before bed to pray for the men, women, and children living in slavery.  Isaiah 61 says that God loves justice.  He binds up the brokenhearted.  He proclaims good news to the poor and freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.

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I originally wrote this for “Intentional Stewardship.”

image from Dustin Gaffke at https://flic.kr/p/k19iJo

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  • Christy Rowland-Drouin

    I am so blessed by your post today. I recently watched “The Dark Side of Chocolate” and began researching the cocoa industry and child trafficking and slavery. My findings have lit a fire in me to not only make a difference in our buying habits but to get the word out. I’ve been sharing information on my FB page and yesterday my girls and I did a foot campaigne to local businesses that hand out candy for Halloween. We gave them the “Fair Trade your Halloween” cards from Equal Exchange. I’m just getting started in the fight and am looking forward to your future posts towards a “slave free Christmas”. In my research, I sometimes became overwhelmed and felt helpless. But I know I’m not in it alone. Thank you and God bless you!

    • Melanie Dale

      Oh that’s so encouraging, Christy! You’re completely inspiring me with your passion for this, and I love Equal Exchange. Love love love.

  • Sara Newberry Harms

    Oh I’m so glad to read this post! I’m bookmarking it…I was just thinking yesterday (our pastor is doing a 2 part sermon on modern day slavery, perfect timing!) how I really want to “purchase with a purpose” and make sure that my money isn’t supporting these sweatshops and slave labor. But it’s too much for little ol’ me to take on, so I’m grateful for community where we can work together to educate and support!!

    • Melanie Dale

      Oh wow, how cool is it that your pastor is preaching on modern day slavery?!? Yeah, I get overwhelmed and wonder what on earth I can do from my minivan here in the suburbs, so we’re in the same boat and we’ll just keep learning and making a difference together!

  • Laura M

    I LOVE THIS and am so excited. I want to do this year-round. This is something I am passionate about. Thank you for doing this awesome service of finding these companies! I have a suggestion for your consideration. I basically don’t buy new clothes if I can at all avoid it; we shop at Goodwill or consignment shops and sales for 95% of our clothes (socks and underwear and sometimes kiddo PJs are the things we buy new). What do you think?

    • Melanie Dale

      Absolutely! My kids wear mostly hand-me-downs, and there are some awesome consignment stores out there. Great idea!

  • Pingback: Help End Modern Day Slavery: Talking with Your Kids - Pennies Of Time: Teaching Kids to Serve()

 

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