I live in Los Angeles, a city of self-proclaimed foodies who frequent farmers markets for locally grown organic produce. For the good of the environment and for their own health, my friends will happily spend a Saturday afternoon picking out pesticide-free kale grown within a 50-mile radius of our neighborhood. While I certainly affirm their right to choose their own vegetables, as an anti-slavery advocate, I wish their mindfulness would extend to the well being of the fellow humans who harvested their produce.
As the Policy and Legal Services Director at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), I have personally worked on behalf of human trafficking survivors for more than 10 years. The survivors I’ve worked with have been forced to labor against their will in California in diverse industries such as honey production, Christmas tree farms, apparel factories and agricultural fields. Forced labor is happening in our own backyards, and yet few people acknowledge that modern-day slavery exists in the United States and is used to make the products that we use every day.
Mindful decision-making about our consumption is a vital tool in the fight against modern-day slavery. Yet, as consumers, we often feel helpless because we lack the knowledge necessary to make informed purchasing decisions.
The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (SB 657) seeks to change the “ignorance is bliss” paradigm by requiring certain businesses with over $100 million in worldwide gross receipts to inform consumers of their efforts to eradicate human trafficking and slavery from their supply chains. Today, for the first time, Californians can simply visit KnowTheChain.org and see what their favorite retailers are doing to ensure that their products are free from modern-day slavery.
Because California is the world’s tenth largest economy, the Transparency in Supply Chains Act has a truly global reach. Multi-national corporations are now telling us what they are doing about human trafficking, and we consumers need to start listening.
California has a well-earned reputation for being a trend-maker. The world looks to California for cues on entertainment, technology, fashion and food. Let’s ensure that the world also notices our stand against human trafficking, because transparency in supply chains is trending now!
Stephanie Richard is the Legal and Policy Director of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), a leading anti-human trafficking organization and original sponsor of SB 657: California Transparency in Supply Chains Act.