Sunday, July 27, 2014

The End It Project: let's all be brave [an update!]

Inspired by the End It Movement to live a life free of slave-made goods, the End It Project is my journey toward that goal. I try to post an update on the 27th of each month to commemorate the 27 million slaves in our world today - but if we join together in small acts of bravery, I'm confident we can lower that number!
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I acquired a copy of Annie Downs' new book Let's All Be Brave last week (more on that later). It's sort of an expansion of the "saying yes in your mess" concept that Kristen Welch introduced in her book Rhinestone Jesus (which I studiously did not read last month, even though I said I was going to) - but apparently it's a concept that I need to think about (drat). As I was reading it, I was feeling somewhat convicted about not having written an End It post last month - I was busy, research takes more time than I have, no one responds to my emails, is anyone even reading these posts? I bet nobody actually cares about this besides me... excuses, excuses.

But, seriously, I did get discouraged by the utter lack of enthusiasm (even in my own household) about something that seems (to me) to be very much worth approaching enthusiastically. Annoyed with the book (or, the thoughts and feelings that it sparked), I set it down and wandered off to do other things, among them, checking my email.

There was a message from a name I didn't recognize, with a long and complicated ID number attached to it, so I at least knew that it was the result of trying to contact someone through their "contact us" form on their website. I opened it up. OPI's director of regulatory compliance began by apologizing for taking so long to get back to me ("so long" being several months, since I originally contacted them before writing April's post) - but he actually had a decent reason for it. Their supplier attested that the mica they supplied was slave-labor free ("Of course," he said, "how can you really know without personally going there yourself?"), but he was appalled by the preliminary research on mica mining that he did on his own and promised to do some more digging. Side note: have you ever seen "synthetic fluorphlogopite" on a cosmetic label? That's the official name for synthetic mica - slave free!

I later received another email confirming that their suppliers have taken "concrete steps with three party verification" to ensure that no slavery is used in the acquisition of their mica. So, yay OPI! That puts them on the safe list.

But more than that, I was encouraged by the power of one person asking questions. He didn't know that mica mining ethics were an issue until I asked - it didn't take a protest, a boycott, or even an inundation of questions and complaints in order to lead, if not to change, at least to verification of ethical practices. Companies are dehumanized by the need to keep up with unreasonable demand - but the inner workings of those companies are still made up of real people, who care and can be reasoned with. Now that they know, that will push them toward transitioning to the synthetic alternative perhaps more quickly than they otherwise would have.

One person being brave. One voice speaking out. Now, imagine the effect of two - of ten - of a growing and multiplying movement of people who realize that their convenience is not more important than someone else's freedom. That is the path to breaking chains and ending slavery - so, let's all be brave!

1 comment:

Cherise L. C. said...

Sarah Jo, this post was inspiring! Thank you for asking questions, for writing about things that take time, and for letting us know.