If you received roses or chocolates yesterday then good for you!
I didn’t want to take the gloss off by posting this before Valentine’s but have you wondered who picked those flowers and who harvested that cocoa?
1-800-Flowers pledges to offer fair trade flowers
Over the weekend, the change.org website launched a petition asking US online florist 1-800-Flowers to offer Fair Trade certified arrangements. The petition gathered over 50,000 signatures. 1-800-Flowers responded by pledging to have a Fair Trade available by Mother’s Day.
In a sign that the company is serious about it, they also agreed to regularly publish information about where they source their flowers and what certification systems they have in place.
The cut flowers sold by 1-800-Flowers (and others) come from all over the world. Amongst their suppliers are:
- Kenyan plantations where workers report being forced to work 8-12 hour shifts for less a dollar a day, handling dangerous chemicals without protective gear and living in cramped conditions.
- South American plantations where over half of female workers are sexually harassed or assaulted on the job and where 70-80 hour mandatory work weeks are compulsory.
As one of the largest players in the US market, 1-800-Flowers’ decision will have an impact throughout the cut flower industry.
Chocolate manufacturers enjoy cheap cocoa – cheap because it’s harvested by kids
While a lot of work remains to be done to improve labour conditions in the cut flower industry , the chocolate industry has much further to go.
For many years, a campaign has been directed at Hershey’s and other chocolate manufacturers to improve their sourcing policies with little success.
Some 1.8 million children aged 5 to 17 years work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast and Ghana. In the Ivory Coast, about 40% of these children are not enrolled in school. As if that’s not depressing enough, the taxes on the cocoa producers have been helping the belligerent Laurent Gbagbo remain in the country’s Presidential Palace, despite his term expiring in 2005 and having lost year’s much-delayed election.
You can tell Hershey’s to get their act together here.