Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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Purchase With Purpose

You may be surprised to learn that I’ve done more this year than be sick, but it’s true. 😉

Over the past few months, a few Not For Sale Georgia friends and I have been working on an ethical buying guide called Purchase With Purpose. It’s definitely been a labor of love—a three-month labor that felt like the full nine! It started earlier this year when I learned more about the problem with child labor in the chocolate industry. I then wanted to make sure I was purchasing chocolate that was free of slave labor. From there, I wanted to expand into other areas of my life. I felt convicted to make sure that as many of my buying choices as possible reflect my values and concern for modern-day slavery. This trek wasn’t new to me as I had previously worked in the environmental sector, and had already made “green” a priority. Luckily for me, these worlds overlap in many ways.

But then I began to think about my friends and family. I wanted to help them make better choices. Even though this cause wasn’t theirs, I know many people who would do good by making safe buying choices; they just needed to be educated to do so. Think about it for a moment. If there were two pair of jeans, about the same price, style and quality, but one had a safe supply chain one was questionable, which would you buy? Many people I know would by the ones from a company who was doing good things. It’s the reason we all own TOMS shoes. You buy them not just because their cute, but a child in need receives a pair of shoes. Easy decision. I own four pairs!

I then approached my Not For Sale state directors about the idea. What if we created a buying guide that gave people a list of companies with safe supply chains? (A safe supply chain simply means that the items you buy were made without slave labor. From the raw materials to the finished product, all workers were treated fairly, paid a livable wage, and not forced or coerced to perform their job. Sadly, with over 30 million slaves around the world living today, you may find yourself surprised to know the reality of how your chocolate, clothes, soap, lamps, toys, electronics and anything in-between came to be.) And to build on that idea, what if we focused our fall quarterly meeting around the idea of buying ethically for the holidays?

They were both on board, and the project was given the green light. I’d seen some other buying guides, so this wasn’t a revolutionary idea. However, I wanted to help create one that 1) didn’t focus a lot on niche brands which most people didn’t know and didn’t have much access to, and 2) included local businesses. I wanted to make it approachable for the everyday consumer. And I wanted to reward and recognize local businesses who were going good.

A few others jumped in to help, and we began in late August. It’s been a wild and crazy couple of months. We unofficially debuted the guide at Not For Sale’s annual conference, the Global Forum, a few weeks ago. This was particularly exciting because the NFS main office became interested in what we were doing, and also very supportive. In fact, Emily, my partner on the project, and I were asked to speak at the event on our guide and how consumers can become more engaged in the issue. Our little audience responded well to what we had to say, and many gave us their email addresses to receive a final copy of the guide! That was definitely a highlight for me, as it was exciting to share all this research we’d been doing. And I wanted people to understand that, in reality, this wasn’t that hard. Since then, we’ve been invited into Not For Sale’s conversations on supply chains.  They have an excellent resource called Free2Work that I recommend if you want to learn more about forced labor and safe supply chains. They are able to do much more extensive research than us, and always adding to their list of reviewed companies. Additionally, F2W just released a report this week on ratings in the apparel industry. It’s good stuff. We are really thrilled to be a part of this conversation with them.

However, tonight was our big night! This is the night we’ve been counting down to. We officially debuted the Purchase With Purpose guide tonight at our NFS GA quarterly meeting! It seemed to be a big hit, and if it helps people buy better, then it’s done it’s job. All I wanted in the beginning was a tool to help the people I know buy better. I wanted my dollars to make sense. And I am proud to say I’ve done that.

Along with the guide announcement, Emily conducted a panel featuring speakers from several ethical companies: Foojee, Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co., Noonday Collection, Socialvest, Ten Thousand Villages and The Learning Tea. These folks were great! They educated and inspired the audience, and I truly believe they helped change some buying habits tonight. It was fantastic company to be in.

I’ve gotta say, I am still kind of amazed at how much this project has grown. I was hoping for the guide to 100 companies—we ended up with 250+ local, regional, national and international brands. And we still have plans to expand it. There are talks about making it an e-book or a website. Someone at the Global Forum even asked us if we were going to start writing or petitioning legislation on the matter! At this point, though, who knows. I just want it to be a resource for people like me, people who want to do good in the world. I think there are a lot of us out there. In fact, I think it’s the future of business. If you look closely, you are seeing it all around. As I saw with the eco-friendly movement, I believe supply chains are the next big issue in retail. More and more people care about what corporations do with their dollars. They want to support companies who have heart. They want to be a part of something that matters. And if they can do that by buying better toothpaste, then why not?

Start small. Start somewhere. Start today. Purchase with purpose.

 

To grab your own FREE copy of the guide, visit http://bit.ly/purchasewithpurpose. You can view and download it from there.

And if you’d like to connect with Not For Sale Georgia, text “NFSGA” to 50500.

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You’re Invited! (Not For Sale GA Quarterly Meeting)

Not For Sale Georgia Quarterly Meeting

Thursday, November 15, 2012

7-9 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

M. Rich Building in Downtown Atlanta (Parking will be validated for the adjacent garage only.)

Please RSVP

 

You may think you only vote during election season, but that’s not true. You vote every day with the choices you make, including the products you buy. You have significant purchasing power, and what you do with your dollars tells companies a lot about what is important to you.

Join us at our next Not For Sale Georgia quarterly meeting as we focus on ethical shopping just in time for the holidays. Ethical shopping is done through a safe supply chain, which simply means that the items you buy were made without slave labor. From the raw materials to the finished product, all workers were treated fairly, paid a livable wage, and not forced or coerced to perform their job. Sadly, with over 30 million slaves around the world living today, you may find yourself surprised to know the reality of how your chocolate, clothes, soap, lamps, toys, electronics and anything in-between came to be.

Hear first-hand from companies who strive for a safe supply chain, and learn easy steps that you can take to purchase with purpose. We’ll also debut our Ethical Buying Guide featuring 250+ local, regional and national brands. And we’ll recap member’s of our core team’s experience to the Global Forum.

Driving Directions

Enter 115 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SW, Atlanta, GA 30303 into your GPS or Google maps.

Follow directions to the address. You will need to park in the adjacent Underground Atlanta Parking deck. This deck is at the corner of Pryor Street and MLK Jr Dr. Be sure to note where Pryor Street is relation to your directions. Enter into the deck from MLK and park. Exit the parking deck onto MLK and go to your right. The building will be at your right, we will have a sign outside the door. We will have parking validation for this deck only available for all event attendees.

MARTA Directions

Alternatively you may use MART. Get off at the Five Points Station, and take Peachtree Road South to MLK Jr. Drive. Turn left and walk down to 115 MLK (building will be to your left).

About Not For Sale

Not For Sale is a campaign of students, artists, entrepreneurs, people of faith, athletes, law enforcement officers, politicians, skilled professionals, and all justice-seekers united to fight the global slave trade and end human trafficking.
The campaign aims to recruit, educate, and mobilize an international grassroots social movement that effectively combats human trafficking and modern-day slavery through “Smart Activism.” It deploys innovative solutions for every individual to re-abolish slavery–in their own backyards and across the globe.


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Not for Sale Quarterly Meeting

This morning I attended Not For Sale Georgia‘s quarterly meeting. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the three-day conference they hosted just a few weeks ago because it was opposite Orange Conference. But this quarterly meeting was a way to catch up on what’s happening here locally. There was a lot of really great information presented, as always, so I thought I’d recap a few points here for any of my fellow abolitionists who were unable to attend.

  • The Global Forum on Human Trafficking will take place on November 1-2, 2012. I’m really hoping to be able to attend this year as I think it would be an unforgettable experience.
  • Think slavery doesn’t touch your community? Take a look at slaverymap.org to see cases reported all over the world. Of course, these are only some of the cases that people have taken the time to input. There are thousands of others that go unreported or unrecorded on this map.
  • A guest speaker from Tapestri in Tucker spoke on their organization, mission, victim tragedies and survivor stories. It is an amazing organization doing incredible work. I need to look into them a little more. There seems to be a lot of great information on their site local to Atlanta and Georgia.
  • Orange Label Denim will be coming to Atlanta this year. It’s a sustainable denim company that will have fair labor practices. I’m excited to hear more about them as they launch. And they need to be at The Orange Conference with us next year!
  • There is a Trafficking in Persons app that you can download as an info source. This App is intended to provide training and reference material about the realities of Trafficking In Persons (TIP). This training was created by the Office Under the Secretary of Defense (OUSD) and is intended to increase public awareness of TIP, and to help serve to end it.
  • Out of Darkness was mentioned again, and it reminded me to check them out. I absolutely hate that Atlanta and Georgia rank so high in modern-day slavery incidents, but I’m always excited to hear how many organizations we have here dedicated to ending it.
  • Buying power was discussed as it has been before. We are all encouraged to “buy differently” meaning to support socially conscious brands. I have been trying to do more of this since working at Captain Planet Foundation but have incorporated it even more after becoming aware of modern-day slavery. One place you can check isFree2Work. Granted it is just getting off the ground so it’s a little limited now, but it’ll grow. Sometimes you just have to do a little leg work and research to trace a product’s supply chain. I have even sent emails to stores I frequent asking about their products and policies, as well as encouraging them to stock more of these items. It takes some getting used to, but it does get easier with time…just like taking your own grocery bags into the store. If you aren’t sure where it comes from and how it’s sourced and made, try not to buy it. It’s always a good rule of thumb to buy fair trade or organic products, though. I realize this action also takes getting used to because it is more expensive. But if it’s cheap, there may be a good reason for it. It could very well be exploiting the laborers. Chocolate is a great example. It’s taken a lot of effort to make this switch in my life because anything that contains cocoa or chocolate may be harmful, and that includes A LOT of items, speaking as a chocoholic. I know I spend a lot of money on groceries and other items comparatively due to these choices, but I really want to not only feel good about the products, clothing, etc, that I use but I also want to do good with it. I want to know I’m not harming another individual’s life due to choices that I can control. My purchase power gives me a big voice.

I also recently finished listening to Not For Sale, the book by David Batstone that launched the organization. You can read an excerpt here: NotForSale_Introduction. It’s a remarkable and eye-opening book. I highly recommend. The organization’s main website also serves as a great resource and also has a small store of products that support them. I’m really proud to support this group, and count myself as an abolitionist among them.

Ok, that’s it! There was more but these are the highlights in my opinion. Read up and get involved! We could use your help!


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Human Trafficking Stats

I went to a screening of Nefarious, Merchant of Soles, a couple of weeks ago. It was a documentary on human trafficking, and was probably one of the best I’ve ever seen – if you can say that about the subject matter. You can take a peek at http://www.nefariousdocumentary.com.

While there, I received a couple of pieces with stats on human trafficking. They are a bit horrifying but I thought I’d share, because ignorance isn’t bliss and knowledge is power. Consider yourself educated after reading this, and then do something.

National and International:

  • 27 million people are enslaved around the world, which is more than the 9 million during the Trans-Atlantic Slavery period – Free the Slaves, Kevin Bales
  • Human trafficking (sexual, domestic, industrial and agricultural) is a 32 billion dollar per year industry, bringing in more revenue than the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB combined. – United Nations
  • Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry around the world. – US Department of Health and Human Services
  • There are nearly two million children involved in the international commercial sex trade. – UNICEF
  • 161 countries out of 192 are involved in human trafficking. – United Nations
  • 80% of all trafficking victims are women and children who are forced into the commercial sex trade. – US Department of State
  • The average age of entry into commercial sex slavery int he US is 13. – US Department of Justice
  • Over 17,000 people are brought into the US each year for trafficking purposes. – US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2006
  • The average age of a girl entering prostitution in the US is 12 years of age. – Domestic Sex Trafficking of Minors
  • Her life expectancy after entering is just seven years. – Shared Hope International, “Demand: A Comparative Examination of Sex Tourism and Trafficking in Jamaica, Japan, The Netherlands and the US” Sharedhope.org, July 2007
  • The two other most common forms of slavery in America are domestic servitude and agricultural workers. – The Slave Next Door by Kevin Bales

Atlanta:

  • Atlanta is a major hub for human trafficking in our country.
  • 200-500 underage girls are raped for profit in our city each month. – Adolescent Girls in Georgia’s Sex Trade: Tracking Study Results, Atlanta, GA: The Shapiro Group 2011
  • 7200 menu purchase underage girls for sex each month in Atlanta. 42% of these men come from the upper north side outside the perimeter, 26% from inside the perimeter, 23% from the south metro area, and 9% from the vicinity of the airport. With approximately 3 million adult men in Georgia, 23% have purchase sex with females and 20,700 do so in any given month. – Georgia Demand Study, 2009 by the Shapiro Group, Atlanta, GA
  • 90% of the runaways wind up in prostitution. – Hidden in Plain View: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Girls in Atlanta, 2005

Local Organizations:

  • Not For Sale Georgia (www.facebook.com/NotForSaleGA)
  • Out of Darkness (www.outofdarkness.com)
  • Wellspring Living (www.wellspringliving.org)
  • Street Grace (www.streetgrace.org)
  • Meet Justice (www.meetjustice.org)
  • International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org)