Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Donate so Others Might... Die?

The other day, Walgreen's had a philanthropy program at the checkout counter, where you could buy a candy bar that the store would donate to the Muncie Mission.
Since the bars were only 60 cents or so, I bought one and donated without thinking.
I would like to believe I was doing a good thing.
But was I?

I happened to be with two of my best friends, who are officers in the Students for Responsible Consumerism club... obviously, we often talk about how our buying habits and our monetary support of multinational corporations (or the farmer's market) adversely impacts our world (or positively, if you're talking about the farmer's market).

child harvesting cocoa
image from
Here are just two stats from the Fair Trade Federation about children and chocolate:

  • 284,000 - number of children in the Ivory CoastGhanaNigeria and Cameroon working in hazardous tasks on conventional cocoa farms, according to a 2002 International Institute of Tropical Agriculture study directly involving 4,500+ producers.
  • 15,000 - number of children aged 9 to 12 in the Ivory Coast alone who have been sold into forced labor on conventional cotton, coffee, and cocoa plantations, according to a 2000 US State Department report

So the question is: should I have bought that chocolate bar for the underprivileged children of Muncie, when that same chocolate company is exploiting thousands of children on the other side of the world?
Yet, often when we purchase inexpensive food, clothing, and utilities for others, we are purchasing products that have not been made using ethical practices-quite the opposite actually.

I want to help the needy of the community, but not at the cost of the well-being of global citizens. It's a thin line to walk, sometimes. It shouldn't be, but it is.

for more information: