Here are Some Trashy Statistics

Originally posted on The Good Buy blog.

Following up on our previous post about United By Blue reaching its inspiring milestone of collecting 1 million pounds of trash from U.S. waterways (read more about it here), check out some infographics that illustrate the scope of the problem of plastic waste in rivers and oceans and the impact of efforts like the volunteer cleanups that your purchases make possible.

What can you do to lessen your impact on the world’s waterways? United By Blue asks us to join them in these three things:

  • Create less waste. Be mindful of eliminating single-use items from your daily habits and be sure to recycle and reuse.
  • Come to a volunteer cleanup. Check out the upcoming schedule and sign up!
  • Buy responsibly. All products require raw materials and energy to produce, so investing in sustainably made items and reusable goods can go a long way in reducing waste. Choose to shop thoughtfully with companies that share your values.

Celebrate International Women’s Day!

Photo of women artisans from around the world

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women’s various achievements all around the world each year. This year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange. Below, we’re highlighting inspiring and bold women artisans who make the goods from UUSC’s online store, The Good Buy. The Good Buy makes it easy for you to find and support inspiring mission-driven, women-led businesses.

Meet Veronica, born and raised in a small town Bolivia. With effort and hard work, she raises llamas, enabling her to collect the wool for weaving and also to sell wool to other artisans. Read her full story here!

Read more inspiring stories of the strong women from around the world The Good Buy partners with who run cooperatives, own businesses, and transform their communities in the rest of the Meet the Maker series.

Ways to expand your circle of love this Valentine’s Day

a child working on a cocoa farm

Love is in the air this time of year, but something a lot less sweet is behind the chocolate and gifts many Americans are giving. Numerous corporations have promised to voluntarily end human rights abuses in their industries. Unfortunately, little has changed over nearly two decades in the chocolate and jewelry industry’s use of child labor and the garment industry’s unsafe working conditions.

BBC documentary filmmakers recently interviewed children in West Africa who said they’d been beaten and forced to work long hours without pay. When one was asked what he thought about people in other areas of the world enjoying the chocolate he harvested, he responded: “They are enjoying something that I suffered to make. They are eating my flesh.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can help make a difference.

“Almost everyone I know will agree that they do not support child labor, yet only a small fraction of those consumers ensure that the products they are buying do not support child-labor practices,” says Manish Gupta, founder of Matr Boomie, who has over a decade of experience working for fair trade in India.

Here’s what you can do: Learn more about why fair trade matters and change habits.

Introducing the UUSC Fair Trade Project

The familiar goods we buy—from our morning coffee to that midnight chocolate snack—often make their way from farmers’ fields to a consumers’ tables in mysterious ways. We all look for the lowest price on our purchases, but what do these bargains mean to the small-scale farmers at the beginning of the supply chain? Most often, they mean these farmers are squeezed out of the market by multi-national corporations that pay too little attention to environmental stewardship and labor conditions. It’s in their interests to keep these small farmers’ needs as invisible as possible by focusing your attention on that low price, and not on the toll their business practices take on workers’ and farmers’ lives.

fair trade graphicWhen Equal Exchange was founded 30 years ago, consumers had hardly heard of fair trade when they shopped at their local grocery store. Since its start as a  worker-owned cooperative, Equal Exchange has lived its values, always putting workers’ rights and sustainable livelihoods front and center. While a lot has happened in the last three decades, one thing remains constant: authentic fair trade is all about small-scale farmers gaining control of their own livelihoods, working together in democratically-run cooperatives. Fair trade’s guaranteed minimum prices for harvests provide a stable source of income and allow farmers to invest in education and social services for their communities. Fair trade means families stay on their land, making organic agriculture and care for the environment their priorities.

Over the years, as consumer awareness of fairly traded products grew, UUSC and Equal Exchange have partnered to link together farmers (the beginning of the supply chain) with congregations (the end point) through the UUSC Coffee Project. Since this project was established, Equal Exchange has donated twenty cents for every pound of fairly traded Equal Exchange products purchased by Unitarian Universalist congregations. Besides the fair price small farmers are paid for their harvests, that twenty cents adds up to a big total investment in the UUSC Small Farmer Fund. Established to strengthen cooperatives around the world, it’s a simple, yet powerful way for UU congregations to put their faith and principles into action.

Today, the idea of fair trade has expanded to other consumer categories, such as apparel and handcrafts. Likewise, Equal Exchange has led the way for continued growth of fair trade certification in the food industry, including kitchen staples like bananas, nuts, fruits, and chocolate. In order to better reflect the variety of fair trade items available through Equal Exchange, UUSC is renaming its partnership with Equal Exchange from the “UUSC Coffee Project” to the “UUSC Fair Trade Project.” This change in name better reflects the expansive scope of fair trade UUs can now support through their commitment to ethical purchasing habits.

How can you get involved more deeply in justice work for fair trade? Visit our new Fair Trade Project page, and learn about the four concrete ways you can put your values into action. Be sure to follow The Good Buy’s blog for the latest updates on fair trade and opportunities to make worker justice a part of your worship services, coffee hour, life at home, and your community.

Avoid Labor Rights Tricks with Sustainable Treats

BOO! It's a Fair Trade Halloween!Seeing the little ones dressed as ghouls and goblins may be adorable, but make sure they’re not putting chocolates made with child labor into their bags. Most chocolates and candies made by multi-national companies, like Nestlé, source their sweets from places that are sour on labor rights. But you can choose to make it an equitable Halloween when you shop fair trade. Small farmers and cooperatives committed to fair trade principles make sure their cacao beans are harvested ethically. Learn more about chocolate sourcing in West Africa that uses child slave labor on the Good Buy’s blog. It’s something that many corporations have known about for years but done nothing about.

At the Good Buy, we carry products from three chocolate makers whose products you’ll be proud to brag are in your bag. Get to know some of the world’s best chocolate from Equal Exchange, Divine, and Taza. Each of our partners source their ingredients from different areas of the globe, but all ensure their supply chain respects the rights of workers.

Make Halloween a safe holiday for all children around the globe by choosing better and shopping ethically.

Did you know that October is Fair Trade Month? Follow the Good Buy blog all month to learn more about fair trade and what you can do to take action for workers’ rights.