Trading fairly is easier than ever

Fair Trade ā€“ the acquisition of goods from sources where people have been paid a fair wage for their work in a sustainable way ā€“ is an idea that has been around for 50 years but has become an organised movement over the past 20 years. fair trade woman2

When it comes to certain products like coffee, tea and chocolate there is no excuse for everyone to be reaching to pick up anything but Fair Trade-produced goods these days as there are many options. It only takes a slight bit more effort to seek these options out and then you can feel good about your purchase.

Other than these items, there are heaps of fair trade options for clothing, health & beauty products, rice, oils, sweets, sugar and many more items. When combined with organic farming practices and even animal-free ingredients, then you really know that what you’re eating/using is truly healthy and cruelty-free.

Here’s a good service called TradeAsOne.com to help you out. I think it’s a clever video and they offer quite a selection of goods:

We have to be aware that the products we purchase from big corporations often come at the expense of someone else’s well-being so to start using a bit more care when buying items we commonly use, we will all be able to reduce the amount of people enslaved or farmers being bullied into providing their goods at below reasonable rates.

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Have yourself an ethical little Christmas…

christmas pig

As Christmas approaches, I am feeling very passionate about reducing the amount of cruelty-created products in my life and the lives around me, so I’m hoping you’ll take a PLEDGE to try to do this yourself this season.

Christmas represents a time when people gather for meals, share gifts and eat too much chocolate. All I am hoping is that you’ll consider reducing your intake of animal products and if you do, then source Fair Trade or ethical/humane options (see options below). And with the gifts you purchase, please consider where it came from and reduce the likelihood that it was procured using slave labour.

Some suggestions:

— chocolate: please avoid milk chocolate as the milk comes from antibiotic-filled, tortured animals. Especially the cheaper chocolate which will also be using cocoa beans picked by slave labour. With cheap chocolate, you are usually also supporting a multinational company that cares nothing about welfare and only about bottom-line earnings. Aim for dark chocolate with the Fair Trade logo on it http://fairtrade.com.au/Ā  If you think you can’t afford to pay a bit more, chances are you should just save your money altogether and not buy ANY chocolate as neither you, nor the planet, can afford the cost of this luxury!

— meat: try to find alternative options to meat altogether. With everyone ramping up with their traditional of consuming a bounty of meat they usually eat this time of year, the number of animals slaughtered reaches an epic and horrifying high (Kill Counter: the moment you open the following web page, it tells you how many creatures have been killed from that moment on to deliver you the range of foods that humans have come to expect. I challenge you to watch it for 1 minute and then honestly assess how you feel about the totals you see: http://www.adaptt.org/killcounter.html )

If you MUST have some meat, please don’t buy the cheapest cuts which will definitely come from abusive factories. It’s not just how MANY animals are consumed, it’s how miserable they lived their lives. Why would you want to eat something that was terrified, miserable, orphaned and murdered? Look at the Humane Choice website ( http://www.humanechoice.com.au/ ) as an example of where to get ethical meat and eggs. Remember: every creature on this planet has the SAME RIGHT to be on this planet as YOU DO.

— consumer products: here’s a great guide to why it’s important and what/where you can buy to ensure a better chance that you’ll be getting stuff not made by slaves: http://www.ethical.org.au/consumer/christmas/christmas-gifts.htm There are also lots of charitable organisations like TEAR’s Useful Gift catalogue ( http://www.usefulgifts.org/ ) where you get to give something that actually helps someone else in a life-changing kind of way. It is after all the season for GIVING, right? šŸ™‚

I try to live by these examples but none of us are perfect. However, if we all pledge to try to eat 50% less dairy, 50% less meat and be wary of where are other ‘stuff’ is coming from, that will already represent a positive change.

Will you take this pledge?

Lost in Asia

Just a short message to say that I haven’t been deliberately slack at keeping the ol’ blog up to date, but I’ve been writing in my other blog during the past month and a bit as I’ve been prepping for and traveling in SE Asia for the documentary I’ve been filming. The film is called Street Dreams and deals with the problems of human trafficking and the child sex trade due to poverty. We’ve just got back and there are many things I can write in here which directly correspond to my interests in the environment, climate and sustainability so I’ll be sure to get to that soon when I’ve had a chance to proces what I’ve seen and experienced on the trip! So, Stay Tuned! šŸ™‚

Human trafficking and the flesh trade

As a determined proponent for ethical living, I try to do my part in a couple of ways: charitable monthly donations to various groups but also in film-making, my career and passion.

For a couple of years, the film-making didn’t have a particular focus; I was just interested in the medium and wanted to tell stories. I’ve gradually become more visually oriented and am just as keen to shoot the story as to tell it. But the focus of the content has become clearer as I’ve been working more with care-givers, support agencies, churches and disadvantaged people; I see that I am making films about compassion. And empowerment. And vulnerability, empathy, caring, people-over-profits, hope and love. It’s very encouraging to have your eyes opened to ALL the people of this world, not just my immediate community or country, as there are so many amazing stories and people out there. There’s a lot of challenging and often sad stuff that comes with that, but in every struggle, there’s a voice to be heard, someone who has something important to share, and I feel like it’s my responsibility to be listening carefully.

Ethical living in the respect of how we live here (in Australia, in the western world) often comes down to how we spend our money and the footprint that we are leaving on this planet. However, sometimes ethical living needs to be more about the welfare of people afar due to the inequities and injustices that are being done to them as a result of things that aren’t as obvious. Two of those things is human trafficking and international flesh trading. This has become the topic of a documentary that my film partner Jason and I want to shoot for our company Red Earth Films. The film is going to be called Street Dreams.

There are literally millions of children and women (mostly) who are virtually (and sometimes, literally) enslaved as workers in many parts of the world, and often this “work” is in the sex industry. The primary reason for wanted to provide greater exposure for this fact in our film is less because of what they are doing, but how they’ve come to be there. Through an endless cycle of poverty and abuse, these women are forced as children to enter a world where they are prostituting themselves to support their often broken family, broken due to prior abuse but not perpetuated from this line of work selling sex to violent and abusive customers. Often these women (or girls) were raped early on, then are shamed in their community and so feel compelled to, if nothing else, support their family financially as they are now outed for religious or strict cultural reasons. This is very briefly covering only a small part of the problem as there are also the issues of international exploitation, corrupt and seedy lawmakers, unethical and amoral behavior, outdated and unfair male dominance and so much more.

However, our film aims to fuel hope for these girls. They don’t need to feel shame and resort to the sex trade. Nor must they feel that this will go on forever; with small NGOs and individuals out helping girls become educated, trained in other areas and having their self-confidence restored, there is a great deal of action on the ground that provides a reason for hopefulness. We aim to explore the people who are providing this hopeful light as well as exploring what personal dreams and ambitions the girls have as they go down the road to potential rehabilitation.Seeing them overcome the inequities of their world and rise above it would be an amazing thing to see and capture in our story.

We’re very excited about this project and are currently fundraising to be able to visit South-East Asia to shoot the film in a couple of months. If this sounds interesting to you, please visit our website for more info. We feel it’s an important story to tell and everyone is better off when injustices like this are exposed and action is taken.