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Eric Price

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Time for a New Globally Responsible Consumer Initiative?

Hundreds of people die in garment factories every year in fires and due to poor working conditions. Wal-Mart and the Gap continue to source clothing from locations that provide unsafe working conditions, long working hours and meager wages. If you are like me, you want to make a difference but have very little opportunity or know what to do. Fair trade and other organizations have made a difference over the past two decades, but I think it's time to move the needle even further! There are many different organizations that are working toward fair labor, human rights, and global ecology:

http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/
http://www.fairtrade.net/
http://www.fairtradeusa.org/
http://onepercentfortheplanet.org/
http://www.sierraclub.org/
http://www.globallabourrights.org/
http://www.wcs.org/

Here's what I'm thinking: a new organization that will combine the efforts of all of these - maybe even collaborate with each one individually - to ensure that all of these goals are being met for the goods or services being produced:

~ Rights for the workers involved: Fair wages, fair treatment and safe working conditions
~ Ecology and environmental waste
~ Consideration for global resources
~ Focus on renewable resources
~ Consideration for local sourcing
~ Reduced resource and waste in shipping and handling

The list could go on. Any other suggestions? This new organization might be setup like the international standards organization http://www.iso.org/iso/home.html Perhaps, there could even be a new ISO standard setup to measure compliance!

A new logo would be created that would reflect certification received for this new standard. The beauty of this concept is that it could be used for any goods or services whether produced locally or abroad.

To work, people would have to promote and pay a little extra.
Maybe such a concept is already out there. If so I haven't found it. All respectful and constructive comments welcome.

How can we make this work?

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    Nov 18 2013: Why the consumer? We all know self regulation never works, only sanctions and potential punishments do. Why not global regulation at the point of origin, or at the nation level, imposing tight controls of imports? I can tell you why, because the average consumer is more concerned to save a few dollars than any higher ideals or any concepts that require extra cost or responsibility.
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      Nov 19 2013: Hi Greg,

      I'd say we don't all know "self regulation never works". it's how I achieve my own personal goals of helping others. A lot of change has happened over the past two decades in consumer awareness. Fair trade has made a lot of progress, as well as any eco-conscious product. We're definately not there yet.

      Why wait around for the governments of the world to change? We can work on import regulation too, but I guess I have more faith in people's willingness to help when given an opportunity. Frankly I have less faith in politicians and the political process than I do in people collectively.

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