Trying to buy goods and services that can genuinely be classed as ethical is a much harder task than it should be. We all want to buy items from brands that pay their workers a fair wage, protect their human rights and take care of the environment. However, it can be hard to find this information. Sometimes options are limited, and the item itself can be more expensive.
The complexity of supply chains today allows companies to avoid transparency, and this unfortunately means many products involve unfair wages or slave labor in their production. There are few industries which do not struggle with the issues, and there are significant levels of modern slavery within the UK. Up to 136,000 people are enslaved in the UK according to expert estimates. Often this is linked to human trafficking, with cash in hand businesses such as car washes and nail bars being examples where vulnerable individuals are often exploited for little to no income. Any level of income provided is certainly not enough for them to escape the abusive situation.
Given that Tuesday was anti-slavery day, it felt appropriate to provide some form of resource to allow us to be more informed when making purchasing decisions for our companies, churches, or ourselves. Alongside this blog is a diagram designed to create a process to go through when buying something. It is by no means foolproof or totally expansive but can hopefully be a useful tool in ethical procurement.
The idea behind the diagram is to help you score a company or product, create a bank of desirable and undesirable products and see if a company is breaching their commitment to exist in the UK. Of course, where it is possible, it is best to use certified Fairtrade items, but this is not always an option. Hopefully this allows you to find the Fairtrade items, or the next best thing. In addition to this, there are many useful resources which can direct you to Fairtrade products or provide more information on specific items. Annoyingly, these websites are bought and then shut down with alarming frequency, but aside from the Fairtrade website some which are still around at the time of writing include The Ethical Shop, Ethical Superstore and The Ethical Consumer.
Flowchart for ethical procurement – slavery-free by Alfie Prothero is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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