Happy New Year!

Still Looking for a New Year’s Resolution? Read More Here …

As we ring in 2020, many of us have made our New Year’s resolutions, to eat healthier, lose weight, etc. Here’s one more to consider – committing to abolishing slavery by becoming an informed and ethical consumer.

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month and Jan. 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day (White House’s Presidential Proclamation) so what better time to begin a New Year, a New You than to commit to a Year of Freedom for all. You can begin by pledging to buy at least one fair trade item per shopping trip or changing some of your frequently purchased items to fair trade. This will allow you to take small steps towards big changes.

Together, we can use our collaborative powers as consumers to help end human and labor trafficking and break the chains of modern-day slavery.

For your slave-free shopping guide, click here

From bananas, cocoa, and sugar to rice, seafood and clothing, finding products with the potential of child and forced labor is easier than you think. Within the first 15 minutes of my morning routine, I have fed the cats, brewed and added sugar to my coffee, and grabbed a banana. Each one of these products has the potential of using slave labor, but by doing some research you can choose products from countries where child and forced labor are not a common practice. You can find more information on these products here.

For example, did you know most major brands of cat food have not sufficiently addressed slavery in the seafood industry? (These online modules are user friendly and free to anyone interested in understanding how forced labor at sea is a problem across the globe and what can be done to protect fishers and seafarers.) It took some research and trial by error finding the right kind of cat food my finicky felines will eat from companies that are producing more sustainable products. If your New Year’s resolution was to save money, you are going to have to find those savings elsewhere. Buying sustainably sourced and fair-trade products may cost more, but as Pope Francis once said, “purchasing is always a moral – and not simply an economic act.” We have a choice, but victims of human trafficking do not.  

Finding those items we often use is going to be easier than you think, just log onto http://slaveryfootprint.org/ for a list of products that you use and find out how many slaves work for you. Four products within the first 15 minutes of my day. By the time I get dressed, put on my makeup, grab my cell phone and drive my car to work, I can easily tag on at least another four products. Mica, one product alone, mined by children as young as four can be found in cosmetics, our electronics and vehicles. Families work 12-hour days for $3 a week and share one meal a day: a cup of rice. Read more here.

We pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for some of these products. Yet the people who are producing them make a few dollars a week and get no more than a bowl of rice to share among their families.

Some products such as coffee, sugar, and bananas are easier to swap for fair trade. Others are in our everyday lives that we can’t live without. So you can take it one step further and demand those companies look at their global supply chains and demand an investigation where our brothers and sisters are treated in ways that go against the very essence of our Catholic Social Teaching — the Rights and dignity and rights of workers and human beings. See Apple and Google named in US lawsuit over Congolese child cobalt mining deaths.

You can also donate to the Diocese of Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force and support our education and prevention efforts as well as our mission to connect survivors to services they need. Please click here to help further our mission and end this affront to human dignity.

For more ways on how to take action during National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, download USCCB’s Human Trafficking Prevention Month and World Day of Prayer Tool Kit!  It offers a range of exciting and important ways for you to work to end human trafficking in your community and help fight modern-day slavery in your dioceses, parishes, and community groups. You will find human trafficking talking points, sample letters to the editor, community engagement ideas, social media, prayer intercessions, and more!

I wish you the best of luck on your New Year’s resolutions and please feel free to email me at ccommerce@cflcc.org with any changes or actions you have taken.

Have a Blessed and Fair-Trade New Year!

Christine Commerce, Human Trafficking Task Force Coordinator – January 2020