A shocking but relevant site has popped up recently: Slavery Footprint, which, after a series of lengthy questions, calculates how many “slaves” you’ve used through the use of food, electronics, clothing, and more. The calculation is intense, and starts as follows:
Your TOTAL SLAVERY FOOTPRINT represents the number of forced laborers that were likely to be involved in creating and manufacturing the products you buy. This is determined based on information regarding the processes used to create these products as well as investigations of the countries in which these stages of production take place for known slave labor (within these specific processes.) This number is compiled from multiple individual product scores (see below).
The “score” for each product is compiled through looking at what they determine as the minimum number of slaves (defined as “[a]nyone who is forced to work without pay, being economically exploited, and is unable to walk away”) forced to produce a generic product of a certain type. “Generic” however, actually means pretty specific – you can track the slavery all the way down to how many smart phones versus video game consoles you have, or how much cumin you season your food with (me: a lot) versus how many mangoes you eat. The data comes from our government (see this report) as well as the International Labor Organization, Transparency International, and Freedom House.
My number was 46, which, according to my Facebook friends, seems to be average. The biggest culprit? It wasn’t electronics or food…it was clothing. Now, thrift shop sourcing wasn’t an option, but I have to admit, the percentage of clothes I have with “made in [insert Asian country here]” is probably high. I guess I’m paying the price, literally and figuratively, with such a high “slave” count. The largest areas include India, Zambia, Australia (really?!), and China, who’s record is grim:
Coal mines, brick kilns and factories in the poorest regions of China operate illegally, using much of China’s estimated 150 million internal migrants as slaves. Raw materials from slavery include: Acrylic, Cashmere, Coal, Cotton, Gold, Graphite, Leather, Limestone, Linen, Mercury, Nylon, Pearl, Quartz, Silicon, Silk, Silver, Tin, Tungsten, Wool, Pig Iron, Lead, Lithium, Polyester
Luckily, the website has a socially integrated “Take Action” page, complete with badges and games for the younger ones, and volunteer opportunities for those of us who can. You can search a company directory and send a well-worded e-mail to anyone from Apple to Calvin Klein with the click of a button that asks them to stop funding slavery immediately. They’ve released a mobile app, and are asking people to donate to Free The Slaves, a group working primarily in Africa to end slavery and stop business from sourcing slave-produced products, as well as draft anti-slavery legislation, and research what methods will work to end slavery, “forever” as they boldly state.
Thanks to @aprilf for the heads up on this incredible site.