In the News

How fair is your eco gear?

Now Toronto

Someone must have slipped some thing in my water, because a giant two-dimensional sex kitten seems to be beckoning me to try on a bamboo bra. A few feet later, a billboard promises 10 per cent off anything in the store if I simply slip on a pair of organic jeans. But this is no hippy mirage. It's the mall at 6 pm on a Monday.

Welcome to the mainstreaming of eco chic.

New code not way to ethical trading

Financial Times (editorial)

Excerpt from article:

Sir, When will the retail sector learn that positive action, not a further public relations exercise, is needed in the battle to stamp out labour exploitation in the textiles and food supply chains? ("Big retailers join forces in an effort to fight labour abuses", January 11.) The last thing needed at the moment is another standards initiative joining an already overcrowded field of weaker and weaker codes and a decade of multiple social auditing that has done little or nothing to halt growing labour rights abuses... 


Slavery Persists

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

By Emira Woods

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the end of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the 175th anniversary of the first meeting of the New England Anti-Slavery Society.

This year also represents the 50th anniversary of independence for many African states, a credit to the visionary leaders of Ghana, Tanzania, Guinea, Cape Verde and Zaire who led decades-long movements to throw off the yoke of colonial slavery.

Big retailers join forces in an effort to fight labour abuses

Financial Times

The world's largest retailers have for the first time agreed on a unified set of workplace standards aimed at eliminating problems such as child labour and unpaid wages in their vast global supply chains.

Wal-Mart, Tesco, Carrefour and Metro - the world's four largest supermarket chains with more than $500bn (£258bn) in aggregate annual sales - have been working with Migros, the largest Swiss retailer, to develop a draft code of standards called the Global Social Compliance Programme...

Money clashes with mission

Los Angeles Times

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The Gates Foundation invests heavily in sub-prime lenders and other businesses that undercut its good works.

By Charles Piller

Seattle — WHEN the cold call came from Ameriquest Mortgage Co., a top lender, Jeff and Cheryl Busby were intrigued.

They had been wanting to renovate the garage of their small bungalow, a stone's throw from picturesque Green Lake. The agent, they said, promised that refinancing would give them $20,000 in cash, yet lower the monthly payments.

Flowers, Diamonds, and Gold: The Destructive Public Health, Human Rights, and Environmental Consequences of Symbols of Love

Human Rights Quarterly Volume 29

On Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and throughout the year, suitors and
lovers buy cut flowers and diamond and gold jewelry for the objects of
their affection. Their purchases are in part a consequence of timely traditions maintained by aggressive marketing. Most buyers are unaware that in gifting their lovers with these aesthetically-beautiful symbols, they are supporting industries which damage the environment, utilize forced labor, cause serious health problems, and contribute to violent conflicts....


Una Flor Tóxica

The Planet Magazine

Excerpt from article:

Beauty comes at a steep price in the Ecuadorian flower industry. Perfect petals mean poisonous floricultural practices. Harmful pesticides in flower production weaken the health of both Ecuador’s natural environment and the farm workers.

The virtuous Valentine's guide: how to be good to your sweetie--and the rest of the world--on February 14

This Magazine

By Jennifer O'Connor

THE UNSAVOURY In 2005, the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF), a Washington, D.C.,-based advocacy organization, and an Alabama civil rights firm launched a class-action suit on behalf of children who were trafficked from Mali to Cote d'Ivoire to work in cocoa bean production. Over 40 percent of the world's cocoa beans are grown in Cote d'Ivoire, and Canada's cocoa imports from there have doubled over the past five years, according to Carol Off, author of Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World's Most Seductive Sweet.

SEIU's Employer Partnerships/Wal-Mart's Low Wage Supply Chain

Shift Break with Tom Herriman

SEIU's strategy of creating partnerships with employers is building up steam. What does it mean for the labor movement? At Wal-Mart, low prices mean low wages...all over the world. Workers from India and Colombia say their real employer lives in Bentonville, Arkansas.

K.R. Jayaram and Betty Fuentes were interviewed by Tom Herriman about the impact that Wal-Mart has had the garment industry in Bangalore, India and cut flower plantations in Bogata, Colombia...