October’s Greenheart Beat
A Sweat Free Chicago?
By: Molly Friend, Greenheart Outreach Coordinator
Tomorrow, our very own fair trade store, the Greenheart Shop will celebrate its grand opening during World Fair Trade Month. Greenheart Shop has made a new home in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago. There is much to share and learn from World Fair Trade Month for example Fair Trade USA’s 10 ways to celebrate. The Greenheart Shop blog recently shared Five Reasons why Fair Trade Month is Great! Fair trade is more than a movement, it’s a lifestyle. So what more can you do to promote Fair Trade in your daily life?
Chicago Fair Trade a local membership organization, comprised of local fair trade groups most recent initiative is working towards making Chicago a Sweatfree Community. What is Sweatfreee Communities? According to their site, it is a campaign of International Labor Rights Forum that “assists sweatshop workers globally in their struggles to improve working conditions and form strong, independent unions”. Volunteers for Sweatfree Communities (SFC) have encouraged US Schools, cities, and states governments to ensure that no materials purchased such as uniforms are created in sweatshops. Specifically SFC works to: coordinate local campaigns; maintain resources for education and policy development; conduct research on supply chain transparency and the working conditions in government supplier factories; and coordinate educational forums for government officials. From their efforts communities are questioning where and how materials are being procured.
Many other great American cities have paved the way by joining SweatFree Communities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Minneapolis. As a SweatFree Community, Chicago could ensure that the city looks closely at the purchasing practices of city uniforms and other goods. Do you want your city to support and further humane working conditions and just wages for all? Chicago is headed in the right direction having already signed a resolution to become a Fair Trade city. However the procurement and purchasing of Sweatfree Communities still needs to be addressed.
World Fair Trade Month appropriately is celebrated during the same month as Columbus Day. While in some countries Christopher Columbus is still looked upon as a hero, in the Americas however, his “arrival” was the beginning of an end to life as it was known. For the people native to the Americas, the arrival of the Europeans was marked by exploitation, death and the decline of ancient civilizations. Indigenous people across the world still fight for survival competing against governments and big business who seek to further plunder their land for profit. Today at Greenheart we support a counter-celebration to Columbus Day, Indigenous People’s Day. Fair Trade offers a way to support indigenous peoples. There are many Fair Trade artisans that make a living by selling native products on this alternative trade market. Greenheart’s Sobremesa works with Cuchareros co-op in Guatemala to sell their wooden products
What can you do to promote SweatFree and Fair Trade?
Show you support of Fair Trade and sweatshop free practices by buying fair trade products and by attending upcoming Fair Trade events:
Greenheart Shop Grand Opening, Tuesday, Oct. 15th, 2013, 5-8 PM
1714 N. Wells St. Chicago, IL 60614
Chicago Fair Trade’s Global Fest Africa, Thursday, Oct. 17th, 2013, 5:30PM-10PM
DIRTT 325 N. Wells Chicago, More information and to purchase tickets.