Creating an Ethical Supply Chain in Social Justice Work
Participating in the new economy means that we, at TESA, have to do things differently—in our line of work, that means we’ve had to come up with an ethical way to produce our games and other resources, because the status quo wasn’t cutting it.
So we put as much effort into finding sustainable and ethical ways to make our games as we do in designing them. Okay, maybe not exactly as much, but when you’ve spent hours blearily searching for ethical U.S. manufacturers of things like dice and timers and plastic baggies and on and on (why did we make a game with so many components?), it sure feels like a comparable exertion to developing the game itself.
At the core of our mission at TESA is a desire for a more democratic and just economy. So we can’t really design games to strengthen this kind of economy while participating in the traditional, exploitative one. Instead, we created our own supply chain to make the manufacturing match the ethos of our work:
- All components of our products, from Co-opoly to Loud & Proud, are created in the United States
- The majority of our games’ components are created within 70 miles of our location
- Most of the paper parts of our games are printed on recycled paper or sourced through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative
When we first started making Co-opoly, we didn’t realize that we’d be paving the way in sustainable, ethical game manufacturing. In doing so, we’ve learned a lot, particularly about the importance of putting our actions where our intentions are, and by being creative in the midst of obstacles.
And it remains that there is always more we could do. This is certainly on our minds, and we discuss it regularly.
Your organization may not be into making games or other resources, but your choices within your organization (and at home) certainly have a local, national, and even global impact.
Below are the three questions we ask ourselves as we embark on new projects, develop new products, or discuss how we might improve what we do: