We want to hear your answers! Read about how more Response readers connect across the globe, tell others about your own experiences, and answer the next issue’s question.
I have committed to buying chocolate only from companies whose sourcing policies I can support. In six years, I’ve seen a lot of improvement in terms of awareness, advocacy, and changed policies, and this is much easier than it used to be when it comes to bar and baking chocolate. But when I’m in a coffee shop thinking of a mocha, or looking over a dessert menu at a restaurant, it’s not always clear whether the options are safe. So I ask. “Would you happen to know the source of your chocolate? I’m really concerned about the labor abuses in the cacao industry.” It’s an easy question, and I don’t belabor it unless the server or barista seems interested. But it’s a small thing to ask, and you never know if it might make a difference.
Fort Collins, Colorado
For awhile we purchased veggies through local farms. We buy a lot of our kids’ clothes from local thrift shops that benefit local charities, and we try to go out to eat at nonchain restaurants when our kids aren’t in tow. Some of these decisions are because it’s a lifestyle I like; some are more intentional to support business. Also, I really love World Vision’s microloan programs. You can choose to support an individual to help them start or grow their small business. It’s cool to think I can have a real and direct effect on someone’s life relatively easily.
Krista Burris Kim ’91
I buy fair trade through groups like SEED, a livelihood network that works with churches around the world to do microenterprise that makes sense in their communities.
I strive to understand and live into the reality that we are made in the image of God.
SPU Assistant Professor of Business Ethics
My daughter Cherise, an SPU student, is traveling this summer as a barista for Off the Leaf coffee in Montana. They will be selling coffee at Christian music festivals all across the U.S. The money they are raising will also help to fight human trafficking. I believe there are a few other SPU students involved with this too.
Jill Blondefield Vernon
I generally support thrift stores, as their sustainability model is “live off the detritus of the modern world!” There are lots of small fair trade groups I respect, including Sari Bari, Word Made Flesh, Bolivia’s Suti Sana. From a policy level, I watch the work of the Ethical Trading Initiative.
We buy our coffee from Camano Island Coffee, which supports the Set Free Movement. I buy a lot of gifts from SEED and Heavenly Treasures. I also researched a great rehabilitation program that manufactures and sells beauty products called Thistle Farms.
Heather Baker Utley
Student, Seattle Pacific Seminary
I support a “food hub” that gives fair wages to organic farmers in northern Vermont. The founders of Farmers to You discovered plenty of organic farmers in that state, but with no steady market, those farms existed on the financial edge. FTY takes orders on Sunday, hosts a packing night on Tuesday near Montpelier, Vermont, and trucks those carefully bagged groceries to my town — where plenty of customers looking for quality meat, dairy, greens, fruit, and goodies. I volunteer with FTY weekly, in exchange for a “share” of groceries. It’s all joy and great food.
Denise Frame Harlan ’09
I do a number of different things but I shop at my friend Regina’s vintage clothing shop, Regina’s Door. It’s in Oakland, California. She hires and trains young women who are survivors. And part of the proceeds go to an organization named Love Never Fails.
San Ramon, California
The first thing that comes to mind is the Equity Food Initiative. Their EFI certification and label on food indicates that a company has met certain training regulations and labor practices that protect farmworkers and bring us safer, healthier food.
We have local coffee shops (not Starbucks) that donate a percentage of their sales to help an organization here called Courage Worldwide. They have a home here in California and Tanzania, Africa, and they take girls in and help them recover from trafficking. I support our local businesses, when I know they’re helping others.
What’s one thing you do to support better business and/or good labor practices? Tell us and read what others have said.
You can also answer the new question for the upcoming Autumn 2015 issue.