Slavery Footprint

Today at work I had a meeting with our contact person for the Mid-Feb through Mid-March emphasis on Modern Day Slavery that we are going to focus on here at church.

Did you know that today there are more slaves on earth than there have been at any other point of history? Slavery did not end in the 1800s, friends. There are somewhere between 10 million and 30 million slaves living in our world–the numbers are broad because the underworld does not make its statistics public like a normal business would (duh).

Slavery in its most horrific and most talked-about form is sex trafficking and forced prostitution but there are many other forms–indentured servitude (on a farm, for example), forced child labor, sweatshop workers who toil to “pay off” a debt that spirals higher day by day. It almost always takes the form of what appeared at first to be a generous loan, but one that can never be paid off due to “interest” or “fees” associated with “letting the debt slide.”

The above video is about a website called slaveryfootprint.org where you can input facts about your belongings, home, and habits. The program uses tons of aggregated data to estimate your “slavery footprint” in the way other sites use info to estimate your “carbon footprint.” I was shocked to find out that based on my lifestyle I have 30+ slaves “working” for me inderectly–more specifically in mines for minerals used in make-up and cell phones, on farms, in sweatshops, etc.

I have a friend who has really taken the cause to heart. When shopping, even for simple things like soap and shampoo, she purchases fair trade as frequently as possible. Yes! There is such a thing as fair trade shampoo! Growing your own garden is a great way to take some of the burden off of day laborers. Purchasing gently-used clothing from thrift stores eliminates the “need” for GAP to manufacture one more shirt. Cell phones use precious minerals like coltan–ever heard of it? Didn’t think so–but there are people forced to mine for it in dangerous conditions. I’m not saying get rid of your cell phone, but I am saying that you probably don’t need to upgrade every two years if you take care of it.

Some people claim that they can’t buy fair trade (products from farmers or workers for a fair price in regards to their labor) because it is too expensive. Stop and ponder that for a moment. Ever wonder why “unfairly traded” products are so cheap? Most of the people I know who strictly stick to fair trade products do not make more money than my family does. In fact, who knows, they might make less. Sometimes it is important to focus on where your dollar is going, instead of stretching that dollar as far as it can go.

For new followers of this blog, I studied International Studies in college which emphasized current global problems like I’m talking about here. It is a passion of mine, which explains the empassioned posts like this that pop up on the blog every now and again. 

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Related: Slavery Still Exists.