Fair Trade: Why I Care

October 16, 2013 in Fashion, Social Responsibility, Sustainability by alliemcc


Last week, 2 weeks ago (good golly, time fliesI posted a quick quiz about fair trade, to mark the beginning of October, Fair Trade Month, a promotion of Fair Trade USA. This isn't a sponsored series, just an issue that I think you should know about, something I'm very passionate about.


bandaid juliaf

Image by JuliaF


For 2 years, I worked as a social work case manager, helping newly arrived refugees and survivors of human trafficking adjust to their new lives in the U.S. On a regular basis, my co-workers and I would discuss our work, new issues that came up with clients, new things we learned, but always circling back to 2 issues:

  1. the anti-trafficking activist movement and all the social workers and law enforcement who are helping trafficking survivors are really just putting a bandaid on the issue;
  2. so how do we stop trafficking, prevent it before it starts, and decrease the demand for forced labor? and how do we empower people to avoid becoming vulnerable to the fear, deception, and violence that traffickers utilize?

I left that job for various reasons, but that 2nd side of the coin– preventing trafficking and empowering vulnerable people– stayed with me. Over the next few years, as I got back to my creative roots and my love of fashion, I saw the potential of the internet and the fashion industry to create change. So here we are.

As with anything that has to do with human beans, trafficking is hella complicated— its causes, prevention, and rehabilitation (aka "rescue") of survivors.

One thing that is a common thread, though, is that ultimately all trafficking survivors were taken advantage of by someone who knew they needed to make money to survive. They were preyed on because of their need for an income and their dream of the better life that would bring.

So, from early on, I realized that one way to keep people out of such a desperate economic situation, is to increase the number of people who are working under fair trade conditions.

Stay tuned for the next article in this Fair Trade series when I'll get into the nitty-gritty of how it really works.

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