Is our stuff produced justly?

Cell phone ©Janet Allen
Our cell phone

It's disturbing to hear how some of our stuff is produced. Social injustice is inseparable from environmental injustice, so there's harm done to both people and nature in the process of creating some of our stuff.

Some of these injustices are news to us, but some we've had inklings of, but maybe we just choose to ignore them? (The Dilbert cartoons in the sidebar are apropos…)

For example, even though we have "dumb" cell phones, so we aren't really attached to them, it's shocking to learn of all the suffering and destruction the mining of their tiny bit of coltan causes.

As the TED speaker said (see sidebar), it's time we demand a Fair Trade cell phone that doesn't cause so much misery.

There's no reason these incredibly useful devices couldn't be produced more sustainably and justly if we priortized those qualities. This is a reason for activism, though, as opposed to personal product choice since as far as we know, they're all produced under the same conditions. (Obviously, we could choose not to have a phone.)

Oriental rug ©Janet Allen
How was this rug produced?

Years ago we bought an oriental carpet, but since learning that some are products of child labor, I still wonder about this one, even though the salesman said it was produced properly.

(And we don't buy the usual self-serving argument about some products produced under horrific conditions that these people are just lucky to have a job …)

And many food items, such as coffee, tea, cocoa, and tomatoes are also sometimes produced unjustly.