Democracy of the Wallet
By the Power of The Wallet: We Have The Power!
Let’s say you are out shopping, looking to buy a gift for someone very important to you. Something that you hope that person will cherish forever. Do you want to give a gift that is tainted by the labour of an eight-year-old child, who worked under horrible conditions to get that gift on the shelf for you? Every time you look at that gift, you will know of its terrible cost: a small child who toils 8-10 hours a day with virtually no breaks alongside her mother, both receiving no pay because they are there to help the husband and father who is tasked with an impossible daily quota. Unfortunately, this scenario is one of the realities of modern slavery today. Would you really want to give something that is slavery-tainted to someone you care about?
Well, you don’t have to. When you walk into a store and find something you like, you can ask the cashier if it was made in slavery. If the answer is no, then you can buy it free of this awful burden. If the answer is “Yes”, “Probably”, or “I don’t know”, then you have two options: 1) put it down, and keep looking and asking until you find something that is slave-free; or 2) ask the store clerk why the store offers such items, and then write a letter to the manufacturer enquiring why it cannot yet confirm that its workers are treated humanely, with dignity and human rights, and when it plans to be able to guarantee this.
You may think that these actions are just a tiny drop in the bucket and would not have much of an effect. Well, that is not necessarily true. Most people do not want to contribute to the abuse and exploitation of millions of men, women, and children. If given the right information, many of us would make the right choice. If more of us consciously shopped in a way that matched our moral compass, we could certainly make a difference.
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you don’t want to support modern slavery. You are not alone. If enough people refuse to buy certain goods because those goods are made under slavery, then the producers of those goods have two choices: 1) continue to produce tainted goods and lose out on revenue until they eventually go out of business; or 2) make sure their goods are not tainted by abusive practices, thereby winning the trust and loyalty of customers, increasing revenues, and… oh yeah, there’s also the knock-on effect of not contributing to supporting environments favorable to modern slavery, so eight year old girls are free to learn math and science, and play, instead of being forced to work under unsafe conditions without pay.
This is where the Freedomer App comes into play. You can learn more about the Freedomer App here, but in short, the Freedomer App amplifies consumer power. The App helps you share information with thousands, or potentially millions of other consumers, letting them know that you just tried to buy something but couldn’t complete the purchase because it was made in slavery. Instead of hassling the store clerk, or writing a single letter to the manufacturer, we can ask thousands of people to start a letter writing campaign. You can start an online petition to put the company on notice. On this platform, you can announce to millions of people why you’re not going to buy slavery-tainted goods. Some will undoubtedly decide to make a similar choice.
Do you see how quickly that can add up? Do you see how easy that was? How simple? No politicking, trying to sway people to do one thing or the other, just the democracy of action: Democracy of the Wallet. And at the end of the day, it is a win-win-win situation, for you, the business, and of course for the workers who no longer get exploited.
But it can be even easier – suppose in our first scenario, you walk into a shop and you see that gift you really like, but right next to it you see another beautiful gift that has a tag reading, “Made in Freedom”, and you know that means the product is 100% slave free. You now have two more options: 1) Purchase the slave free product, and continue along your way, confident in your heart that this special gift is untainted; or 2) take both gifts over to the counter, and tell the cashier that you were thinking of purchasing gift A, but since it isn’t guaranteed to be slave free, you are choosing not to support the exploitation of children, women, and men, and will purchase the gift that was Made In Freedom. If enough people shop with their conscience, just maybe the store manager will start stocking items that are guaranteed to be slave free.
Environmental, Social & Corporate Governance (ESG) credibility is all the rage these days,for investors who want to invest in a company that scores well in these categories. Unfortunately, in certain instances, it has become more of a marketing gimmick than an actual engine for change and the promotion of ethical business practices. Shareholders may hold sway over some aspects of a particular company’s operations, but at the end of the day, do you know who outranks the CEOs, and the board members, and the shareholders? Yeah… The Consumers. You and I, and that power comes directly from our wallet and how we choose to spend our money. Supply and demand, and it is we who define the demand.
The Freedomer App (which we are currently running a crowdfund campaign to complete) educates and informs consumers, and gives us a platform to mobilize and make our voices heard. In today’s world, informed consumers who are organized and motivated have the ability to wield immense power for change.
This article was authored by Ray DeSouza, writer at slavefreetrade.