#GreenFest: A Higher Calling for our Fair Trade Clothing Panel

FTapparel

When Elizabeth O’Connell, Green America’s campaigns director, invited Claire Wickland of Alta Gracia and Megan McManus of Amani DC to speak on the ethical apparel panel at the DC Green Festival, she didn’t realize one key commonality embedded in the names of their organizations.  “Alta Gracia,” it turns out, means “high grace,” in Spanish, while “Amani Ya Juu” (parent organization […]

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Sweatshop Conditions in the US: The Problem of Wage Theft

Photo credit: torbakhopper on Flickr

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides “standards for the basic minimum wage and overtime pay, affects most private and public employment. It requires employers to pay covered employees who are not otherwise exempt at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay,” according to the United States Department of Labor. Laws such […]

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Buying Sweatshop-Free in the USA

alvarado

In the last issue of the Green American, we looked at labor abuses in the US. We’d found that the Made in the USA label doesn’t necessarily mean the product was made under decent (or even legal) working conditions. US workers are often subjected to sweatshop-like conditions, sexual violence, prison-like working conditions, and other forms of exploitation. Fortunately, there are […]

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Which US Corporations Exploit Immigrants?

7-11-prepaid-cards

When you hear the word “sweatshop,” what comes to mind? Most likely shadowy factories in faraway places like China or Bangladesh, where workers are packed into small spaces with their machinery,   breathing in dust-filled air and working 14- to 18-hour days for poverty-level wages. Anyone who has ever read about sweatshops knows that abusive working conditions are the norm […]

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NYC GF: Fairly traded, eco-friendly jewelry from Colombia

Tagua:  Seeds from the palm tree to be made into jewelry

It was a pleasure to meet Carolina Lara this morning at the New York City Green Festival. Carolina is the founder of Amano Artisans, an eco-friendly jewelry company that maintains direct-trade ties with local artisans and jewelry-crafters in Carolina’s native Colombia.  With a background in both architecture and fashion, Carolina brought her passion for design to her new fairly traded jewelry […]

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A Fair Deal for Global Sugar Workers

My colleagues Martha van Gelder and Tracy Fernandez Rysavy have been sharing their experience with kicking the sugar habit on this blog for the past week or so. We’ve all been delving deeply into sugar issues recently, working to prepare “Sickeningly Sweet,” the latest issue of our Green American magazine, all about the American sugar habit, and its effects on our bodies and our health. For my part, I confess to being a little stunned at the amount of sugar Americans consume per capita, partially because I don’t tend to consume that much sugar myself.   I don’t keep any sugar-boosted foods in my house — no soda pop, no sugary breakfast cereals, no sweet treats like boxed cookies or or ice cream, and no processed snacks with hidden sugars.   I don’t even put sugar in my coffee, and if a recipe calls for a bit of sweetness, I’m likely to either leave the sugar out, or replace with a few drops of organic honey, maple syrup, or molasses.

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Hershey Listens…

and Reveals Timeline to Transition to Certified Cocoa Sources Two weeks ago, I attended the Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group (CLCCG) hosted by the Department of Labor in Washington, DC.  I was disappointed in what I heard from the Hershey company. Five months after Hershey’s October 2012 announcement of plans to certify the company’s cocoa supply chain by 2020, all Hershey had to offer the CLCCG was its minor support of  CocoaLink, a text messaging program for farmers in Ghana.  It remains to be seen whether or not CocoaLink is effective in preventing child labor, as their has been no data reported on the issue.  What we do know is that 30% of the messages sent focus on social issues, a portion of which mention child labor specifically.   This program reaches fewer than 1% of Ghanaian farmers, and can demonstrate no measurable effect on the child labor problem.  The program has yet to be introduced in Cote D’Ivoire. Green America and our allies in the “Raise the Bar, Hershey coalition” reacted by immediately releasing a public comparison of the social-justice commitments of the big chocolate companies. One week later, on March 21, Hershey updated the terms of its commitment, pledging for the first time that 10 percent of its cocoa purchases will be certified by the end of this year.   We’ve seen that constant vigilance and pressure pays off in pushing companies to do the right thing.  We’ll hold Hershey to its new 10-percent by 2013 commitment, and we’ll keep pushing the company […]

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Update from the Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group

clccg

On March 12, 2013 nearly 100 interested stakeholders met to discuss the progress made in the last year by the programs of the Joint Declaration of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, towards reducing child labor in the cocoa sectors of Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana. The Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group (CLCCG) task force came together in September 2010 to support the implementation of the […]

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