My column runs on Saturdays, so you're likely reading this on the weekend. Are you barefoot, and luxuriating in soft carpeting under your toes as you relax? And did you know that you can influence whether the rugs you buy for your home and office are made with child labour or not?
Well, with a little help from the folks at GoodWeave, you can. GoodWeave certifies child-labour-free rugs and provides education and opportunities for children who are rescued as well as those at risk.
How can you tell if that gorgeous handmade rug you have your eye on (or that's underfoot right now) was made without child labour? Look for the GoodWeave label -- in order to earn it, rug exporters and importers must be certified. The seal of approval only comes if the company adheres to no-child-labour standards, allows random inspections of its operations, pays fair wages to adult workers and a licencing fee that helps support the program (everything from site inspections to education programs for rescued kids).
As you can imagine, there are thousands and thousands of stories of children GoodWeave has helped. Here's one -- Kusum, who was horribly abused at home and then sold to a carpet labour broker. (There are lots more on the GoodWeave site, including the gorgeous photo gallery, Faces of Freedom.)
It's good to know that there are people thinking about how to protect children, setting up smart and effective programs, and working with partners around the world (rather than simply preaching from safe shores). And I was happy to learn that there are some Ripe pioneers on the GoodWeave team, too.
Loyal readers will know that I've got a new book coming out very soon, called RIPE: Rich, Rewarding Work After 50. It's a 12-week course in how to discover passion, purpose and possibility at midlife.
RIPE pioneers are people like GoodWeave's business development director, Scott Welker, 58, who left the "evil tobacco industry" because he wanted to do something more than make money -- he wanted to make a difference. I asked him how he made the shift. "During a trip to Vietnam, I asked a gentleman about the Buddhist law of karma. He suggested I think of myself as a big barrel of clear, fresh water. Every time I do something hurtful a bit of salt is poured into the barrel. Whenever I do something good or beneficial, fresh water is poured in. A lot of salt was added to my barrel during my career with the tobacco company. And now I'm trying to add as much fresh water as possible."
• Eager for spring to begin? May I suggest that you do the "Bring Back Spring" dance? Watch JazzKamikaze's unplugged version of their hit. Better yet, buy a GoodWeave rug, then download a copy of "Bring Back Spring" and dance until dawn. If enough of us do it... well, there's strength in numbers!
Julia Moulden is an author, speaker, and columnist.
The Ripe countdown begins today! My new book will be launched in just a few weeks. Watch for the first column about "Ripe: Rich, Rewarding Work After 50" -- a 12-week course in discovering passion, purpose, and possibility at midlife.