Adapted from my post ‘New Series: Ethical Goods‘
It’s usually a challenge finding out the source of mass produced goods. The assembly-line paradigm of production has given rise to cheaper, plentiful goods, but it has also rendered the producers (that is, the labor) into little more than single-task cogs in the machine of production who have little to no ownership over the final product. Throw a globalized economy into the mix and one simple cotton sweater, for example, can contain cotton from Burkina Faso, dyes from India, wooden buttons from China, and textile labor from the U.S. Each point introduces an opportunity for increased returns/less investment/more exploitation/whatever-euphemism of your choice and we get sweatshop labor, child labor, and human trafficking among other things.
For those that want to make sure they’re not financially supporting detrimental business practices, fair trade is a good starting point. However, there are issues, criticisms and places for improvement, so it’s not necessarily the saving grace labor rights activists are looking for, especially since certification is expensive and unaffordable to many small companies, farmers, co-ops, etc.
In that light, I have begun a list of ethically-sourced goods or ethical goods rather than strictly ‘fair trade’ goods. This page is is a growing list of information about different companies that actively seek out ethically-sourced resources for their products. I will update this as often as I can, but I do need to commit some time to research to make it a useful resource and this is done when I have free time. Have an idea of what kinds of good I should feature? Post a comment below.
Information on ethically sourced: