Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Killer products and holiday shopping

FP Passport reports that the diamond industry is expecting a negative impact on sales this holiday season as a reaction to the new movie, "Blood Diamond."

Passport provides a list of additional products to give some thought about before purchasing. They include the following:

GOLD: The history of the mining of gold is one of environmental damage and human exploitation particularly in Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo that have very poor labor standards. Unfortunately, there is no certification for “clean” gold but Oxfam and Earthworks are pushing a No Dirty Gold campaign for jewelers to demand responsible mining practices. Some high-end retailers such as Tiffany and Zale have signed on but mass retailers Target and Wal-Mart have not.

COCOA POWDER: Seventy percent of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa where children are exploited on cocoa plantations. Cocoa certified as Fair Trade chocolate comes from farms employing only adults. If Fair Trade chocolate is not available then Cadbury is an alternative. Ninety percent of cocoa used by Cadbury is from Ghana where child labor is prohibited.

TEAK FURNITURE: Sales of Burmese Teak helps fund Burma’s military dictatorship. In addition, the harvesting of Teak is damaging to the environment – forested land in Burma has shrunk by 75% during the 20th century from cutting of hardwoods.

VINYL: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a durable plastic. It’s used to make building materials (including vinyl siding, flooring, and pipes), plastic children’s toys, and garden hoses, among other consumer products. The smell of new vinyl is actually PVC toxins, some of which are suspected carcinogens, being released into the air. Children are exposed to the same toxins when they chew on PVC-plastic toys. The production and disposal of PVC also releases mercury and dioxin into the environment. An alternative is to buy products made from Peva.

COLTAN: Columbite-tantalite, also known as coltan, is an important mineral for constructing circuit boards found in cell phones and other electronic devices, like computers and TV remote controls. Sixty percent of the world’s coltan comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo where it is mined in terrible working conditions and the profits fund warlords. (See this blog’s previous post on the subject here.) While Australia also produces coltan there is no way of tracing the source in the electronic device you are purchasing. Unfortunately, there is no good alternative to coltan as an efficient conductor of electricity.
Read the entire post about Killer Products here.

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