It’s the first of December, and the holidays are approaching. For many, gift shopping started months ago, but it’s easily overwhelming for those who didn’t realise how quickly the year was moving and are now last-minute shopping. It’s easy to get caught up in buying the newest, shiniest, and maybe even cheapest gift for your loved ones without even a second thought to what your purchase may mean. And that’s okay. It’s also important, as people who are fighting modern slavery, that we understand where our money is going and where to put our money instead.

Shopping ethically for the holidays

Each year at The Freedom Hub, we ask that you take the extra minute to think about who and what your purchase supports. Important questions you can ask yourself or your family are:

Where was the product made?

What were the conditions in which it was manufactured?

Were employees treated fairly and compensated adequately for their labour?

Are they there by choice and have the ability to leave if they want to?

One of the most common forms of modern slavery is forced labour, where workers aren’t given any choice or autonomy over their work or bodies. Often, victims of forced labour are women who face harassment, abuse, and coercion by their abusers.

What can we do?

With the economy the way it is right now and rent increasing, buying ethically made and produced gifts every time or for every person may not be possible. However, it’s still crucial that we, as consumers, do our homework and hold these companies accountable. One of the ways we can do that is by shopping at businesses that go out of their way to ensure that their supply chain is free of slavery. Putting our money where our mouth is this holiday season is a great way to support survivors, stand in solidarity against slavery, and, over time, force companies to move away from forced labour in their supply chain towards more ethical production.

Shopping Guides – practical ways to get involved

So, what does this look like?

It’s overwhelming to find businesses that avoid modern slavery practices, and ethical shopping guides are a great place to start. Below are a few shopping guides to get you started:

  • Ethical Shopping Guide – This is our go-to resource when choosing brands to stock our Freedom Hub Cafe. It uses a grading system, allocating brands an A – F rating and assessing social and environmental impact.
  • The Good Shopping Guide – Energy, Money, Fashion, Food & Beverage, Technology, Health & Beauty – it’s all covered here, so it is also a great place to start!
  • The Honest Consumer – For socially responsible brands that give back and are both sustainable and ethical. Although this app is not focused on slavery or forced labour, it allows you to shop based on your values.
  • Change the World by How you Shop – This is a US-based guide, but it also has a master list of guides if you want to sit and study your shopping habits.

Ethical ways to navigate the fashion industry

If you didn’t know, the fashion industry is very labour-intensive, making it highly susceptible to forced labour. Brands and businesses have been forced to be more transparent about their labour practices and supply chains. Still, there are enough loopholes in government policies and rules that allow companies to prioritise profit over people. So, it’s up to us to pressure these brands and fashion houses, demanding accountability and transparency about how their products are made and manufactured. We do that by taking our money elsewhere.

Two websites, Good on You and Oxfam Company Tracker, are great tools to use the next time you’re out shopping.

  • Good On You App – An excellent app for out-and-about shopping. Search by store or by brand to discover their rating. It’s an incredible resource with thousands of ratings, articles and expertise on ethical and sustainable fashion. Know the impact of brands on both people and the planet!
  • Oxfam Company Tracker – A list of some of the biggest companies in Australia that display whether they are being fair to their workers.

Other ways to get involved during the holidays

Help raise awareness and join your local volunteer team; contact us here.

Or, if you’d like to opt into our monthly newsletter, opt in here.

If you would like to support our work, you can donate here.

You can join our High Tea for Human Rights in Waterloo, Sydney, by clicking HERE.

You can Host your own High Tea by emailing [email protected], and we will send you information and a fact sheet to read or distribute to your guests.

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