Everyone wants a bargain and to save money. Compliment someone on an outfit and you might hear “I only paid … for it.” However, in some cases our savings may mean someone else paid for it with their time, their meals, their living or working conditions. The smallest items in our closet, fridge, make-up bag, garage, etc could potentially be sourced to some form of slave labor.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates child labor decreased from 30 percent of children in 2000 to 11 percent of children in 2012. It is encouraging to hear the numbers are going in the right direction, but that’s still an estimated 170 million children being used for labor that they’re too young for or work in unsafe conditions.
Although it’s not just child labor that consists of our low prices, it’s factory workers in other countries and oftentimes illegal immigrants in our own. In 2016 the Department of Labor visited 77 clothing companies in southern California and found 85 percent were violating labor laws. Which for many translated into paying less than the standard minimum wage.
Think about the clothes you wear, the phone you hold and the food you eat. Where is it coming from? We are a consumerist nation and traffickers have turned this against us. Let’s use our consumerism to seek out social justice and ethically sourced items. It’s difficult to face how our buying choices affect slave labor, but one worth it.
To find out how your lifestyle may be affecting the global slave industry check out slaveryfootprint.org.
written by Natasha Komen