Globally consumed at the rate of two billion cups a day, coffee is the world’s second most traded commodity. The market pressures that result from this high demand can push producers to commit labor rights abuses as severe as human trafficking. This is a concern especially in regions affected by poverty, where vulnerable communities are more susceptible to exploitation. In order to minimize human rights violations within this industry, it is up to us, the consumers, to demand products that hail from a fair, transparent supply chain. We have the power and responsibility to hold enterprises accountable and call for a shift in labor practices.

That’s why I’m leading the Conscious Coffee Project. Sponsored by the Anti-Trafficking Coalition at Berkeley, Conscious Coffee is an effort to foster a supportive network of cafes near the UC Berkeley campus that sell ethically sourced coffee. We will feature this network on a website and app geared toward students, both of which will serve as informational tools while operating through a financial incentive– users who frequently shop within the network can earn rewards like a free cup of coffee from their favorite cafe

There is a perception that products with labels like Organic or Fair Trade are too expensive for the general population to afford, let alone college students who are scrambling just to afford Bay Area housing costs and overpriced textbooks. If the goal of ethically sourced products is to empower economically marginalized populations, shouldn’t they be accessible to consumers who also struggle financially? This irony inspired me to add the rewards system portion of the app. Not only do I want to provide Cal students with the information they need to make conscientious consumption choices, I want to give them the financial resources to make these choices viable.

Because human trafficking is such a huge, complex phenomenon, it can be difficult to figure out how to work toward its eradication in a meaningful way. My internship at Not For Sale this semester has taught me that it is not enough to throw money at a cause, trying to fix the problem after the damage has already been done. We must seek innovative solutions to prevent vulnerability to exploitative situations from taking root in the first place. As consumers and changemakers, our voices and minds are integral to the abolition movement. Together, through entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology, let’s stand up for our values and make a sustainable impact!

Dirty Word

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Online Trafficking

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