According to the Global Slavery Index, there are 45.8 million slaves in the world today and over two-thirds of those slaves are victims of forced labor. Forced Labor is obtaining and transporting of a person for labor through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery. Forced labor is the type of enslavement used across the world to produce many products in our global supply chains. The desire to produce a profit is the largest motivating force behind the institution of slavery.
Fortunately, we as consumers can fight forced labor by shifting the demand of our buying habits to fair trade and survivor-made goods. Fair trade is more than just paying a laborer a fair wage, however. Fair trade is a reciprocal partnership based on mutual respect that allows us to buy the products we love without taking advantage of the people who make them. By educating yourself about fair trade and debunking its myths, you can start to change your buying habits and become a smarter consumer.
Since fair trade clothing and home goods are less accessible to find than fair trade food, for example, here are five ways to build a slave-free closet. By supporting ethical brands, shopping less and choosing better, choosing quality products over quantity, buying vintage or second-hand, and valuing the clothes you have, we hold companies and governments accountable to put people before products.
Fair trade doesn’t have to be overwhelming! From now on, take small steps such as switching to one or two fair trade products such as fair trade coffee or t-shirts. Additionally, donate your money or time to a fair trade or anti-human trafficking organization, many of which can be found here.