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Track the Slave Labor Footprint of Common Products

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday September 30th, 2011 | 0 Comments

Slavery Footprint is a website, launched last week, which calculates how much slave labor is used to produce the common products in our lives. The launch of the site, which is a creation of the California-based Fair Trade Fund and the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, coincided with the 149th anniversary of the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Users take a survey which asks them eleven questions about their lifestyles. The survey focuses on the following topics: number of children the use has, home ownership status, size of home, type of food user eats, personal care products, jewelry user owns, electronic devices, sporting goods, and clothing.

The questions asked include: Where do you live? What’s in your medicine cabinet? What’s in your closet? What gadgets do you own? How much jewelry do you own? Also, have you ever paid for sex?

After the user answers the questions, the survey calculates the user’s “slavery footprint” score based on where the raw materials in the products used originate and where the products themselves are manufactured.

Throughout the survey, users are hit with facts about slavery, including the State Department’s estimations that there are 27 million slaves globally. Other facts include:

  • “In China, soccer ball manufacturers work up to 21 hours in a day, for a month straight. Even the toughest American coaches wouldn’t ask that from their squads.”
  • “Every day tens of thousands of American women buy makeup. Every day tens of thousands of Indian children mine mica, which is the little sparkles in the makeup.”

A cell phone app, based on the user’s survey responses, for Android users (an iPhone app is in the works) allows someone to calculate how much slave labor is used in the products they use.

“[Slavery] is in everything,” Justin Dillon, chief executive of Slavery Footprint, said. “It’s in every product. It’s not just tracing one element on the periodic table.”

Dillon hopes the site and the app shifts “the conversation in the marketplace a little more that makes it easier for corporations to engage in [the slavery issue] in a substantive manner.”

“I wanted to see how we can help individuals use their lifestyles to end this,” Dillon said.

The point of the website and the  app is to mobilize consumers to end slave labor. “I didn’t want to create another bummer calculator that only spits out bad news,” Dillon said. “I wanted to see how we can help individuals use their lifestyles to end this.”

“Success for us means that we’ve shifted the conversation in the marketplace a little more that makes it easier for corporations to engage in [the slavery issue] in a substantive manner,” says Dillon.

“This is a new way to create awareness about the issue of modern slavery and empower consumers,” said Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Photo: from Slavery Footprint


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