Ethical Purchasing Network
Since 2006, the Federation has coordinated the purchase of ethically produced and sustainably sourced materials for campuses across Canada. Most of theproducts available through the Ethical Purchasing Network are union-made,from recycled materials, cooperatively produced and environmentally conscious. These products include:
- Water bottles produced from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic;
- T-shirts, laundry bags and shopping bags produced from mill ends by the Single Mothers’ Workers Cooperative of El Salvador;
- Lanyards manufactured from post- consumer recycled polyethylene;
- Handbooks made from post- consumer recycled paper and vegetable ink; and
- A number of other union-madeproducts.
By purchasing these products collectively, students’ unions are able to save money, help make campuses sweatshop-free and influence industry standards so that other companies offer products that are made under similar ethical conditions.
One of the ways the Federation has impacted industry standards is by supporting a partnership with the Single Mothers’ Workers Cooperative of El Salvador. In 2006, thousands of garment workers in the country, many of whom were women, were losing jobs as clothing production shifted to other parts of the world. Many of these women decided to use the many years of experience they had in the garment industry to form a Cooperative and create their own production facility.
The Federation’s initial order of 40,000 t-shirts allowed the Cooperative to relocate to a safer region of El Salvador, where there was more space for production and to operate a daycare for members of the Cooperative. The Federation continues to empower the Cooperative by ordering t-shirts, tote bags, shopping bags and laundry bags for students’ unions across Canada each year.