The Problem with Reverse Trick-or-Treating

You probably haven’t hear of reverse trick-or-treating unless you are a hardcore engaged consumer.  So let me show you how it works….

Little Jimmy dresses up like a zombie and goes door-to-door with his plastic pumpkin, just like any other little kid.  But unlike any other kid Little Jimmy refuses to accept the chocolaty treats offered by his neighbors who went to the trouble of buying candy and handing it out to kids.

“No, thanks,” Little Jimmay says, “I have candy for YOU that wasn’t picked by a trafficked child laborer.”

At this point Little Jimmy hands over a piece of Fair Trade chocolate with a note outlining the child labor situation in West Africa.

This is a problem for two reasons:

1) Little Jimmy looks like a self-righteous little punk.  This might be the first time his neighbors are learning about Fair Trade and it’s done in a way to make them feel guilty.  It’s much better to inspire people to become responsible consumers by making them feel a part of the solution rather than part of the problem.  If the note said something about giving farmers opportunity that would be great, but it won’t. It will say something about child slaves.

2) Child slavery isn’t the problem.  There are a few thousands child slaves in West Africa, which is a few thousand too many for sure, but there are a few hundred thousand adult slaves.  Most of the kids working in the cocoa fields are working for their parents, who are farmers who don’t earn enough money from their farms to send their kids to school on a regular basis if at all.  Some cocoa communities don’t even have a school to which to send their kids.

Child slavery, adult slavery, and child laborers in the cocoa industry are all just symptoms of a larger problem: the cocoa farmers don’t earn enough money.  This and farming in a sustainable way are the problems Fair Trade addresses.

If you want to spread the importance of Fair Trade:

1) Hand out fair trade chocolate with a note to trick-or-treaters talking about the opportunity fair trade provides farmers.

2) If you are going to have your kids hand out fair trade chocolate, first have them gratefully accept the candy offered from your neighbors.  Don’t make your neighbors feel like slave supporting jackasses.

I’m a big supporter of Fair Trade, and if a Little Jimmy came to my door and gave me a lecture, I would not be happy.  I feel like it’s the equivalent of an 8-year-old bible thumper telling you that you’re going to Hell. Nobody wants that.

Enjoy Halloween, make Fair Trade look good, and don’t be a jackass.

(I know this is a late post, but Halloween in Muncie got rained out yesterday. I’ll be hitting the streets tonight with SpongeBob–my 4-year-old daughter Harper–and a skeleton–my 2-year-old son Griffin.)



Let your voice be heard!