Information for consumers about how their spending habits affect human rights, animal rights and welfare, and the environment.
NEW on the Corporate Gidelines page, under Environmental Guidelines: Energy Star Performance Indicators for Industrial Plants
NEW on Human Rights page: Business & Human Rights Resource CentreNEW on Products and Services page:
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Spent hens are those that are no longer profitable egg layers. They are supposed to be stunned before being moved through scalding water to remove their feathers, but "HSUS alleges that birds regularly made it through this process still alive."
2014 Dec. 28 From Global Possibilities: Good energy news from New England. Renewable energy, compared to fossil fuels, has been criticized as 1) "not dispatchable, i.e., a grid manager cannot reliably and predictably deploy [renewable energy sources] to meet demand", and 2) more expensive. The New England grid manager is addressing the first criticism by working on "algorithms that will enable it to dispatch renewables when" wind, sun, and water variables are favorable. It is addressing the second criticism by adjusting the bidding process for selling energy to the grid to allow renewable energy producers to have increased opportunities to sell the excess energy they produce when, for example, there is a lot of sun. "Within the next year or two, New Englanders are going to enjoy cheap, dispatchable renewable energy...."
2014 Forced Labour in Northern Ireland. A 2014 June report found some "positive movements" in recognition of forced labor and introduction of legislation since a 2011 report, but argues there is still a need to separate the issues of forced labor and human trafficking in order to address "exploitative employment practices" apart from criminal justice issues.
Employment sectors where exploitation was found or suspected included fruit-picking, fishing, shellfish gathering, recyling, domestic servitude, cannabis cultivation, and prostitution.
" The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) noted that, as of 21 January 2014, there have been no cases in Northern Ireland taken forward under Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act, which deals with slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour, since the Act was introduced in 2009."
Several factors made it "difficult to identify many clear cases of forced labour in Northern Ireland." Some workers reportedly were trafficked across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, making regulation more difficult. Some considered themselves better off than back home and may therefore have been willing to tolerate diffcult conditions. Some were afraid of prosecution for working in illegal industries. "However, they noted a diverse range of examples of exploitation that raised concerns among people working in statutory agencies and the voluntary sector, and these appear to have occurred in a wider range of employment sectors than had been identified in the 2011 ICR report."
Adding to the difficulty in identifying and dealing with forced labor is the fragmented nature of the regulatory system for employment practices. The various agencies have differing authority to investigate, information-sharing is lacking, and illegal or informal workers, especially migrants, can slip through the cracks.
2014 Dec. 23 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: explosion at Vertex-owned ammunition factory in Bulgaria leaves one dead and three wounded. Violations of working conditions and safety assessment rules had been found at the plant.
2014 Dec. 19 BBC News: "Apple 'deeply offended' by BBC investigation". The Panorama program's investigation found "an exhausted workforce making Apple products in China, as well as children working in extremely dangerous tin mines in Bangka, Indonesia." Apple sent an email to its staff acknowledging problems but claiming they are working hard to rectify them. The program can be seen on BBC's iPlayer in the UK only.
2014 Dec. 9 Yahoo News: Demand for illegal ivory by wealthy Chinese citizens has caused a 13-fold increase in the retail price since 2002. Poachers in Africa have killed many elephants to satisfy the demand. Poaching and habitat loss have threatened the survival of some populations.
2014 December 1 TheRealNews.com: Black Friday protests included those against the decision "to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed black teen Michael Brown" and demands of Walmart workers for a living wage of $15 per hour and the right to unionize. A study "found that women are disproportionately impacted by the company's pay scale and that Walmart could pay its workers $25,000 a year--which is equivalent to $15 an hour full-time--without charging customers more."
2014 November 21 DemocracyNow.org: "New Film Tracks How Immokalee Workers Won Fair Wages from Corporate Giants"
The film "Food Chains" documents how The Coalition of Immokalee Workers got major corporate buyers to agree to the demands of the Fair Food Campaign. Abuse of tomato pickers in Immokalee, Florida had included brutal working conditions and outright slavery: see Modern-Day Slavery. This was an amazing victory of the seemingly powerless over the hugely powerful.
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."
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.