Posts with Category Engaged Consumer

Travelers witness garment worker protest in Cambodia

Dalene and Paul Heck of Hecktic Travels we’re traveling in Phnom Penh when they witnessed a protest by garment workers. Police met the protestors with riot shields, rubber bullets, and then actual bullets. Dalene wrote about the protest and how she now vows to change as a consumer.

Here’s her powerful post-protest reflection:

Their plight is one common to this part of the world – one of being overworked in deplorable and unsafe garment factories while earning less than the minimum wage. The workers from this particular factory serve H&M, the Gap, and other global brands. They have already been protesting for months to no avail.

“We are embarrassed that you have seen this,” said those Cambodians we talked to about it later.

They were embarrassed? I was embarrassed –…

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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…

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Where are your socks made?

I was contacted by a sock company that sells groovy socks.  The socks were colorful and bold. They made a statement, and for every pair that they sold they gave money to a charity, which supports entrepreneurs.

Here’s what they wrote:

Kelsey, Love your mission. You are an inspiration. I have some rad socks for you. I’m the co-founder of XXX – a sustainable social enterprise that makes socks that (insert cause here).

So I picked out my favorite pair and sent them my address because, “hey! Free socks!”  But I ended my response with a simple question that has gotten me in a lot of trouble…

“Where are they made?”

That was two months ago.  I never received a response or socks.  Maybe they could’ve just forgotten to reply or send…

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#BeFair: Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

Since I’m eating Fair Trade chocolate today for lunch and nothing else, I have a question for you:

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

Leave your answer to be entered to win this bag of Fair Trade goods. After you leave a comment take the BeFair Survey.

Happy last day of Fair Trade month and Happy Halloween!

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#BeFair: Fair Trade vs. Fairtrade

Did you know there were two fair trade organizations? Answer with a YES or NO in the comments and you’ll be entered to win a Fair Trade gift bag.

Huh? There are two fair trade certifications?

Yes, there are. As of 2011 Fair Trade USA, formerly known as Transfair, and Fairtrade International parted ways.

Who has a bigger and better impact? Fair Trade wonks can argue about this all day. From my view, their goal is the same: improve the lives of farmers. They both set minimum prices for farmers and pay social premiums back to farmers. These two points set them above all other certifications in my opinion.

The trick with any certification is that the stricter the environmental and social standards, the fewer farmers and laborers who benefit from the standards….

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#BeFair: Is McDonald’s coffee more ethical than Starbucks?

Have you heard of the Fair Trade, C.A.F.E. Practices, Utz, or Rainforest Alliance certifications? Leave a comment listing the certs that you’ve heard of and you’ll be entered to win a Fair Trade gift bag.

In Where Am I Eating? I mention a major fast food chain that buys a lot of Fair Trade coffee, but couldn’t reveal what chain. Now I can.

It was McDonald’s! Surprised?

Here’s how the section should read now:

You already support fair trade more than you know. Two separate sources confirmed that McDonald’s buys 30 percent of their coffee certified Fair Trade. That’s 22 percent more than Starbucks. Yet here’s the problem: no one knows this or can talk about it publicly because the company is worried that…

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#BeFair: Ending Fair Trade Month with a bang!

October is Fair Trade Month. I know it’s sort of late to be noting this, given that there is only one week of the month left. Better late than never, I guess.

I want Fair Trade month to go out with a bang and will be writing a series of #BeFair posts, starting with the one you are reading right now. If you leave a comment on any of these posts, you’ll be entered to win a shiny environmentally-friendly, socially-conscious gift bag. The winner will be randomly selected on Halloween and will win this…

This gift bag is awesome, but pales in comparison to the absolutely gi-freaking-normous grand prize that Fair Trade USA is giving away (both…

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My Cover Story in the CS Monitor

The line between exploitation and opportunity in our global economy is blurry.

This blurred line is at the heart of my recent cover story in the CS Monitor. I feel that the feature is one of my most important works to date, bridging my travels and research from my first book WEARING and my latest book EATING.

I felt compelled to write the main story as I followed the tragedy of the recent collapsed factory in Bangladesh that killed 1,129 garment workers.

Here’s how Monitor Editor, John Yemma, introduced the feature:

“Kelsey’s reporting is not designed to steer you away from these items but to help you appreciate the human lives behind them.”

Read the main story, “Follow the…

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Texas State Students produce “Where Am I Wearing?” documentaries

In 2012 Texas State freshmen read WEARING as part of their Common Experience — A Global Odyssey: Exploring Our Connections to the Changing World.

Dr. Salwa Khan with the School of Journalism & Mass Communication, had her students produce WEARING-themed segments. The segments explore if students think about where their clothes are made, how Texas State sources their athletic uniforms, feature University of Texas students who fought to get their university to sign on with the Worker Rights Consortium, and feature an interview with local clothing designer.

What I really enjoyed about each segment is that they took this global issue and talked about how it impacted their lives as locals.

Here are the the titles and credits for…

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