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My Fair Trade Journey: Evaluating Personal Responsibility and Consumerism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUDENT VOICES | CHYNN PRIZE FIRST-PLACE WINNER 

By: Tiffany Melillo

Every day, regardless of what I do, I use forced labor.

No, I am not a plantation owner in the South during the Civil War, nor am I a current factory owner in Asia. Rather, I am a 21-year-old Fordham student from the Bronx. I grew up in a loving, middle-class family with happily married parents, a brother, and a cat. I do not fit the stereotype of someone who uses forced labor, but I assure you that I do.

According to Made in a Free World, I currently use 26 “slaves”, but I am positive that number is low. My consumerism is contributing to a cycle full of injustice. The goods I buy come at the cost of the marginalized both domestically and internationally. Child, forced, or under-paid labor are a woven part of a majority of the items I own, yet, there is only so much that I can — perhaps willing is a better word — do about it.

I am trying to find a way to live a “normal” life in such a manner that I do not contribute to the human rights abuses that are happening every day and help those whose lives have been adversely affected, or ruined, by this social sin[i],[1]. I do not have a solution to these problems, but I know that Fair Trade can help. Throughout this essay I will described my Fair Trade journey and the ethical challenges I have faced throughout it.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.