Choose an everyday product (a particular food, a t-shirt, a phone, or a bottle of water, for example). Learn about who makes it, how it is made, and where it comes from.
Write a letter to the manufacturer or your MP demanding just supply chains.
Research and consider more sustainable alternatives where possible.
Our global economy is intricately connected, and what we consume in this part of the world requires materials, labor, and lots of hidden work located in other parts of the world. Our profit-driven economy often exploits the most vulnerable people in our human family by making them work for low wages in dangerous conditions, and sometimes for no wages at all. According to the International Labor Organization, 25 million people are victims of modern slavery in the labor sector today; most of them are women, and a quarter of them are children. Yet these and other exploited workers make the products we buy at malls and supermarkets and through online retailers, keeping prices lower because of low labor costs. That means we benefit from these inequalities! To dismantle this structural injustice, we need to make the invisible things visible.
Watch one or more of the videos below, introducing supply chain and production issues related to various products. Have your students choose a brand or manufacturer associated with one of these product stories, and brainstorm or assign an action you can do to raise awareness and contribute to structural change! For example, your students might write to the brand or manufacturer inquiring about their production process, and do their own research to compare with any potential response they might receive. Your students might also write to their local Member of Parliament, asking if they are aware of these issues, and for a commitment from the MP to advocate for more corporate responsibility throughout supply chains of companies headquartered or operating in Canada, so that consumers can be confident that they are not contributing to injustice by purchasing these products.
Lastly, see if there are alternative consumer choices in the meantime: Can students commit to holding on to that electronic device a little longer and not buying the latest model? Can students wear last year’s fashion, or ask their parents if they’re willing to only buy fair trade coffee? Can students go on a thrift store, visit and host a thrift store fashion show in their class or club? Get creative!