Have Yourself a Conscientious Little Christmas

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Source: Flickr, Stéphanie Kilgast

By Danielle Morales-Klima

If you’re reading this post, you may already be aware that it is possible that there are still staggering estimates for slavery today, that it is cheap and disposable (or, as many advocates against sex trafficking explain it, reusable), and that this fact is woven so seamlessly and ubiquitously into modern life that it’s difficult to trace and even harder to avoid.

While it is always best to do your own digging and no website is necessarily foolproof, there are resources available to help you purchase socially responsible gifts. Here’s what you need to know to check items off your shopping list and still sleep easy at night—credit card statement notwithstanding.

Which companies are good, and how good? Free2Work grades businesses on their efforts to keep child and forced labor out of their supply chain. The website lists more than 20 different categories covering a range of industries, from jewelry to chocolate to shoes. A newsreel on the right-hand side offers visitors to the website the latest updates from the selected industry, and there is even have a mobile app to scan barcodes while you shop. This morning I learned which brands of coffee are responsible to purchase and which I will be avoiding until they clean up their act.

Keep it local. While some of the most progressive policy changes to address transparency in supply chains may have came out of California, Chicago is proud to be home to the largest fair trade coalition in the country. If you love shopping and like to see merchandise before you buy it, visit Chicago Fair Trade for more resources. This holiday season, you can do your shopping at their pop-up shop in Bucktown. Hurry in to snag an eco-friendly and fair-trade gift for a loved one (or yourself!) from more than 20 local, ethical vendors!

I need a specific item! Say you’re looking for gifts for your sister’s baby or your dog, and while Free2Work offers major industries, you have a specific item in mind. The Green Pages has got you covered. It’s simple and direct and all you have to do is type in an item word: a scarf, baby, dog, etc. and you’ll receive a list of relevant websites for businesses that don’t use child labor and in which all workers and supply chain are provided a living wage and a healthy work environment.

Cruelty free, every season. Holiday shopping aside, most people use dozens of products on their homes and bodies. When you you visit The Good Guide, you can enter a product name or scan barcodes with the app and you’ll see a three-part rating, one  for how healthy the product is to use, another for how the product impacts the environment and a third for how it impacts society. A higher score for “society” means that the company is transparent about its practices, that it contributes positively to the surrounding community, and that it has shone a commitment to human rights. The best part is that if you find out a product you love is failing on one of these issues, the website offers higher-scoring alternatives so that going forward you can make a better choice. For an even more in-depth look at the impact of your purchases, check out our 10-step guide on how to help in the fight against trafficking.

Keep it clear. These websites don’t account for every single business, so if you’re committed to the cause but couldn’t find relevant information, a great starting point is to investigate how well a business has committed to transparency in their supply chain. If you find that your favorite brand has not committed, go ahead and ask them why.

Cheaper online. Most people are just going to go to Amazon. If this is you, consider using Amazon Smile. Here you can buy the exact same items at the exact same prices, but 0.5% of anything you purchase supports the charity of your choice. If you’re not already signed up, consider supporting Traffick Free.

This year as you purchase gifts, you can take steps to guarantee that the people who made those goods were treated with kindness, dignity and respect—and that is just joyful.

Traffick Free is a faith-motivated organization that seeks to provide the greater metropolitan area of Chicago with tools and sustainable programs to combat human trafficking and transform the lives of victims and communities.