Shop With a Conscience
The fair trade movement in the United States began with a few organizations willing to give producers a fair price for their goods and to engage in ethical and non-exploitive purchasing and marketing practices. Several alternative trading organizations have been practicing fair trade for more than five decades and provide important alternatives for gift-giving.
Alternative Gifts International is an interfaith non-profit agency that provides gifts that empower people in crisis and help protect the environment. Mayan Hands, a fair trade enterprise working with Maya artisans since 1989, is working with Pastors for Peace to make available high quality products for sales at churches, schools, or offices. Contact Alternative Gifts International at P.O. Box 2267, 9656 Palomar Trail, Lucerne Valley, CA 92356-2267; 1-800-842-2243; fax (760) 248-2195; www.altgifts.org. Mayan Hands can be reached at 92 Brookline Ave., Albany, NY 12203; (518) 489-4593; fax (518) 438-6354.
Making Corporations Accountable
The National Labor Committee, an independent human rights organization focused on protecting worker rights, kicked off a "Holiday Season of Conscience/ Peoples Right to Know" campaign on October 3 to raise consumer awareness of how to protect human rights. This is a joint campaign with the People of Faith Network.
The two-year Peoples Right to Know campaign will focus on corporate disclosure-holding corporations accountable for the conditions under which their workers labor and their products are produced. It will also focus on empowering consumers to defend worker rights through education and activism targeting companies with the worst human rights records, such as Wal-Mart.