Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bridgestone/Firestone and Liberia

I learned today that my ex employer, also largest tyre and rubber company in the world, Bridgestone/Firestone, is in some public relations trouble for the slave like conditions under which their workers eke out a living on their enormous rubber plantations in Liberia, one of the world's Least Developed Countries. This was fascinating to me on three counts: I used to work for Firestone, I'm interested in social justice and related issues, and I once hung out for a week with a bunch of rubber plantation workers and their families in rural Liberia.

So my suggestion for the time being is: next time you have to buy tires (see, now I've used both the Commonwealth and the American Spellings in this post. Very mulitcultural of me), don't buy from firestone or Bridgestone, and don't buy tyres manufactured by firestone/bridgestone.

I have more proactive ideas about this issue in my idea mill and shall post about them soonish.

By the way, totally as an aside, it was fascinating to learn firsthand where the rubber in our tires actually comes from, and to see it being harvested from the rubber trees. I have at least a couple good stories I shall share over the next coupla days about the lovely people I met there in Liberia.

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