This past week was involved Valentine’s Day as I’m sure you’re all aware (painfully or happily so), but my club, Advocacy Team helped it to be done a little bit differently…
As multiple “Valentine’s Day” tables sprung up around Decker College center selling everything from carnations to lollypops and who knows what else but their sign was pink, we decided to give people another option. Fair Valentines, Slavery-free Valentines. Instead of people buying your typical Hershey’s chocolate, we offered them delicious Fair Trade Chocolate! We had four different types: dark chocolate, milk chocolate with a hint of hazelnut, dark chocolate carmel crunch with sea salt, and dark chocolate with espresso beans. They all sounded delicious.
It’s something several campus organizations have been doing for the past three years Advocacy Team, IVCF (InterVarsity Christian Fellowship) and CCM (Catholic Campus Ministries). The chocolate industry is a huge problem in terms of the global slave trade and forced labor. And since everybody wants chocolate around Valentine’s Day, why not give them the best chocolate around which doesn’t have a stain upon it? Enter Equal Exchange, the fair trade company we bought the chocolate from. They are a great organization bringing fair trade products to the market. Fair trade is a mark goods get when their workers and producers are being paid a fair wage, and certain healthy working conditions are met. As a consumer, we have the huge power and responsibility to influence the market by purchasing fair trade products instead of our norm to show large companies like Hershey’s that we care about what goes into our chocolate and the people that make it.
The idea for the Valentines was simple- people get to order the chocolate, and they can arraigned to either send it to a friend or themselves and decorate a note to send with it. Then we’d put it in the person’s campus mailbox, or deliver it in the case of professors. We sold all our chocolate- 108 bars total, and had a fun wrapping and cupcake party at my apartment to get everyone’s orders together and labeled before putting each red package in the mailboxes the next morning- Valentine’s Day.
For Advocacy Team’s next event we’re hosting a documentary screen on Fair Trade- the coffee industry in particular. Hopefully events like these will open students eyes to some global situations and get them to create change simply through their purchases.