Say Goodbye to Slavery

Today's post is 2 of 3 by Mrs. Jennafer Ort - who's been invested in understanding this problem for quite a few years now.


Hey again,

In my last post I introduced the problem of modern-day slavery. It’s a problem so huge that 45.8 million people are trapped in slavery around the globe. It’s a problem so pervasive that essentially every country in the world has slaves, including the United States. And it’s a problem so personal that many of the daily purchases we make are directly supporting - even demanding - that this slave labor continues.

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So did you take the slavery footprint questionnaire to learn how many slaves are working for you? ( It’s a bit unreal to think of dozens of people working in violent, filthy, abusive, dangerous, and inhumane circumstances just so I can have a closet full of clothing, a house full of gadgets, and a cupboard full of food.

So what do we do about it?

Before you freak out, I’m not going to tell you to get rid of everything you own and commit to a life of self-sustaining simplicity in the wilderness. That’s just not practical (for most of us, anyway!). But in light of your new knowledge, I’d challenge you to not ignore the problem either. Let me recommend 3 concrete options for reducing your slavery footprint starting today. These are the same 3 things I did to bring my own slavery footprint down nearly 20% in less than 2 years.

The solution for us all comes down to knowing where your money is going. If you don’t want to support slavery, don’t spend your money on items that were produced by slaves. You have three ways to avoid this:

1.       Ditch it.

2.       Research it.

3.       Localize it.

These actions steps are simpler and more powerful that you’d think:

1.       Ditch it: Not sure whether the item you are planning to buy was ethically sourced? Just don’t buy it. If you are not certain whether an item is ethically sourced, it probably isn’t. Most major brand names for anything we buy – from bananas to running shoes – do not verify their raw materials are ethically sourced. So ask yourself, “Do I really need ____?” If the answer is “no,” just don’t buy it – at least not until you’ve found an ethical source. If the answer is “yes,” (or “no I don’t need it, but I really, really want it,”) then choose option 2 or 3 below!


2.       Research it: There has been a recent wave of counter-action to the problem of slavery and unfair wages: it’s called “fair trade.” A growing number of organizations are ensuring their laborers are earning fair wages for their work – all the way up the supply chain. This isn’t about raising minimum wage. It’s about eliminating slavery. So look for brands with one of the fair trade symbols OR buy from companies who verify their products are fair trade or ethically sourced. (See the end of this post for some websites to help.) As a bonus, you can also buy products that are organic. Since organic items have to verify their sources to prove they’re organic, it’s very unlikely they can hide unethical labor in the process.

 3.       Localize it: When I say “localize,” I don’t mean you have to only buy products that are made locally. What I really mean is making sure your proceeds are staying local. You can most easily do this by buying items second-hand. Think about it: If you buy a t-shirt from Goodwill, the only people benefiting from your dollars are the local Goodwill employees. None of that money makes it back to unethical original sources, so you just made an ethical purchase. But when you buy that same t-shirt brand new from a store like Walmart, your dollars are directly supporting the manufacturing of that product – even if the manufacturing used slave labor somewhere along the line. Buying secondhand not only saves you money, it saves you from supporting slavery. This strategy can be used for electronics, cars, clothes, any of those items you can’t seem to find fair trade – or at least not fair trade and in your budget.

Personally, I’ve used each of these strategies to some degree. For example, I’ve given up chocolate unless it’s fair trade. I’ve researched ethical sources to purchase tennis shoes and dress shoes. I’ve started buying some produce from the local farmer’s market instead of the chain grocery store. And I’ve committed to buying most of my clothing items and electronics secondhand until I can find or afford to buy them fair trade.

Sometimes these choices are inconvenient or expensive. But each change is worth it to know that none of my dollars are being used to exploit slaves.

So now you know.

You can’t do nothing anymore.

You are no longer innocently ignorant.

Your informed silence would implicitly

support the slavery

you now know exists.

So instead, I’d like to invite you to fight against slavery.

I’m asking you to re-think your purchases.

I’m challenging you to try the strategies above, starting with just 1 category or purchase.

You can build from there.

We can all build from there, until, together, we put slavery out of business.

Will you join me?

p.s. For a list of companies who are fair-trade certified or made by survivors, check out this website. It lists companies for everything from accessories to food to makeup to clothing:

The Dark Side of Chocolate ... and Everything Else

Today we have the privilege of coming along side Jennafer Ort - who I introduced last week - and journeying with her as she learned about the global human trafficking problem. There are two more posts after today's - so stay tuned!


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Hey there, I’m Jennafer Ort. You’ve probably never heard of me, or – if you have – it was as “Jenna” Young during my 2 years being discipled by Amy Jo in JC’s Village. I’ve been invited to write a 3-part guest series on Amy Jo’s blog. Not because I’m a blogger – I’m not. Not because I’m working with Amy Jo – I’m not. Just because I have something important to share, and it’s too important to limit it to my own sphere of influence. With that, brace yourself. This isn’t a peachy inspirational post. It’s heavy. It’s heart-wrenching – if you let it sink in. But please do because it’s important.

It’s slavery.

If you’re anything like me, your first associations with the word “slavery” might be the Civil War, Africa, William Wilberforce, or some other historical character or time period. You might suppose slavery died with the Emancipation Proclamation of the 1860s. But what if I told you slavery still exists? Then what would you think of? Distant countries? Primitive people groups? Rare horror stories?

Yeah, me too. Until I learned I was wrong.

I first heard about modern-day slavery in my junior year of high school in 2008. At the time, all I knew was the story of a teenage girl giving up chocolate because she learned cocoa was often farmed using slave labor. I was shocked. I admired this girl for giving up chocolate. I considered following her example. And then I promptly forgot about it and moved on with my care-free life. When I heard the same statistic during my sophomore year of college, I was convicted to actually do something by giving up chocolate for a year. I had very little information at the time. And I had absolutely NO IDEA the extent of the slavery problem.

It wasn’t until December of 2015 that I became aware of the vastness of modern-day slavery. Over seven years after I’d first heard slavery still existed, I learned that an estimated 45.8 million people are enslaved across the world.


That’s like the entire populations of Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand combined. That’s a lot of slaves.

And the sad thing is, they’re everywhere. In 2016, the Walk Free Foundation ranked 167 countries from most to least estimated slaves in that country. Sorry, but the United States was not ranked last. It was ranked #72 out of 167, with an estimated 57,700 slaves in the USA.

Granted, it could be more. In fact, compared to the estimated 18 million slaves in India, it’s easy to think we’re doing pretty well. The problem is that many of us in the United States directly support the slave industries of other countries without even knowing it. How do we do this??? Through our purchases.

Chocolate bars, steaming coffee, smart phones, rubber tires, shrimp, fruit, tennis shoes, cheap t-shirts…the list goes on and on. Many of the items we buy or consume every single day have passed through the hands of a slave. It’s not that the companies selling the items are enslaving people. But these companies don’t demand or investigate ethical standards from their suppliers, so they – and we – end up supporting the slavery cycle through our purchases.

Let’s get more personal. Right now – today – there are people around the world working in factories or farms or brothels or fishing boats to support your seemingly harmless lifestyle. To see an estimate of the number of slaves required to support your lifestyle, I challenge you to take this 11-question survey:

When I took the survey on December 24, 2015, my score was 44. Forty-four real people somewhere in the world were working in slavery so I could enjoy my privileged lifestyle as a college student. Something had to change. And it is.

When I took the same survey today, my score was 36.

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36 is 36 too many. But it’s nearly a 20% decrease from my first score, so I think I’m onto something. I’d like to share that “something” with you. Please tune in later this week to hear how I’m decreasing my slavery footprint, and how you can decrease yours.