Information for consumers about how their spending habits affect human rights, animal rights and welfare, and the environment.
2014 November: Important New Information
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2014 November 22 On Bill Moyers.com: Group of Harvard students sue the university to divest from fossil fuels
2014 November 20 On Buzzflash.com: Oil Company Tries to Shake Down California County for $1.2 Billion for Banning Fracking
2014 November 20 The Real News: Animal agriculture and global warming
2014 November 19 On Bill Moyers.com: Federal Election Commission allows Chevron to avoid campaign finance restrictions
2014 November 18 Uganda probes theft of ivory stockpile
2014 November 17 Common Dreams: 35.8 Million Worldwide Living in Modern-Day Slavery
Sweatshop conditions and pay are being investigated by the Labor Department. Some methods of wage theft are paying by the piece at rates sometimes equivalent to less than minimum wage, "pay stubs [that] could be redeemed only at check cashing stores that charged fees", failing to pay proper rates for overtime and sick pay, and forcing employees to " complete tasks before clocking in or after clocking out".
"Experts say intense competition among garment manufacturers has created incentives for companies to shortchange workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants hesitant to report labor abuses."
"The contractors targeted by the Labor Department supply some of the nation's most recognizable retailers, including Macy's, JC Penney and Kohl's."
2014 November 13 Shell Oil suit ruled unconstitutional.
After having plans for drilling in environmentally sensitive areas in Alaska approved, Shell filed three suits to preemptively prevent environmental and Alaskan native advocates from suing Shell to stop the drilling. Two of the suits were dismissed; one is still pending.
Their tests found GMOs in "virtually all of the samples we tested of products that made only a 'Natural' claim", contrary to what most consumers would expect from the label. GMOs are especially prominent in corn and soy based foods. GMO labeling is mandatory in many countries but not in the U.S. Consumer Reports thinks it should be mandatory in the U.S., based on the precautionary principle of better safe than sorry. "Some animal studies suggest that GMOs may cause damage to the immune system, liver, and kidneys." GMOs are strongly defended by seed companies such as Monsanto, which manufactures the weed killer Roundup which doesn't harm GMO crops, but "superweeds" have sprung up which are not killed by Roundup.
For more information on labels, see Products and Services, "What's in a Label?"
"Chevron's repeated refusal to clean up its toxic contamination of Ecuador's Amazon rainforest constitutes an "attack" on civilian populations and should be investigated by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, impacted indigenous and farming communities charged this week in a formal complaint (pdf) to the global body." Toxic waste dumped by Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001, has had disastrous impacts on the environment and public health of 80 communities and tens of thousands of people, the suit says.
2014 October 25: Reducing fossil fuels vs. jobs loss
Drilling for fossil fuels has disproportionately affected people of color, low income, and indigenous peoples. In 2001 the Black Mesa Water Coalition of Navajo and Hopi youth "persuaded the Navajo Tribal Council to cut off Peabody Coal’s access to the [Navaho Aquifer]", which had deprived residents of access to clean water. This victory was offset by the loss of jobs for Peabody workers. Some argue that the answer to this dilemma is a cooperative, rather than capitalistic, economy to support locally owned, environmentally sustainable projects. Black Mesa is working toward such an economy.
2014 October 14: Greenpeace campaign vs. Shell Oil: "Lego is ending its partnership with Shell gas stations after a three-month environmental campaign against Arctic drilling."
"The campaign launched by Greenpeace featured a video entitled, 'Everything is NOT Awesome,' playing off the theme song of The Lego Movie."
Fair Trade News: Fair World Project works to protect the strength and integrity of the term fair trade.
Special Report: Chocolate
2013: How to make sure your chocolate purchases do not support child slavery.
Special Report: Torture
There is hope! Please see the post on a January 2012 anti-torture resolution by the city of Chicago, and how other municipalities can do the same. If you do not see it at first, refresh the page by clicking the refresh button on your browser bar or pressing the f5 key.
Special Report: Fair Trade
2013 update summarizes changes in standards and controversy over increasing availability of products with the certification by making it easier to get certified vs. maintaining more rigorous standards. Fair World Project offers suggestions for resolving the conflict by making product labels more transparent about percentage of ingredients that are certified.
Special Report: Modern-Day Slavery
2012 Oct. 3: good news!Green America reports that Hershey Co. "will be certifying 100 percent of its cocoa by 2020 and urged the chocolate giant to go 100 percent Fair Trade with incremental benchmarks."
2012 Oct. 5: more good news! Chipotle signed the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Trader Joe's signed back in February 2012.