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Ending Slavery by Being a Smarter Shopper

Ending Slavery by Being a Smarter Shopper
Alison Storm

Many people think “slavery” ended after the Civil War, but, tragically, it’s more prevalent now than at any other point in human history. According to Relevant magazine there are nearly 30 million slaves worldwide, a number that's growing because our buying habits are increasing the demand for cheap labor. There are more than 13 million child slaves, who are often sold by their impoverished parents, working in fields, brothels, private homes, mines, and restaurants overseas and even right here in America. February 27 is Shine a Light on Slavery Day, something you can do with every dollar you spend. Freedom fighters around the world will be drawing a red "x" on their hands to signify their quest to end modern-day slavery. But even after that red "x" washes away, consider these ways to be an abolitionist with your purse strings.

Identify Your Slavery Footprint

First things first. Find out how many slaves work for you by taking the 11-question quiz at slaveryfootprint.org. From the Mica that gives your eye shadow its shimmer to the cotton in your kid’s favorite t-shirt, much of it is mined or picked by children. For instance, every year in Uzbekistan two million children as young as six are forced by the government to harvest cotton, earning nothing but meager meals. The country is the third largest exporter of cotton in the world. Beware, the information may shock you.

Shop Your Valuesslavery good guide

No one wants to support slavery, but when you buy products that aren't responsible that's exactly what you're doing. Shopping your values is easy with the free GoodGuide app. Find healthy, safe, green and ethical products by scanning barcodes on the go. You'll get ratings and information on everything from food to apparel.

Scan Barcodes with Free2Work App

Learn the story behind the barcode with the free Free2Work app. The app reveals which brands are working hard to eliminate forced labor from their supply chains, giving them a grade from "A" to "F". Not For Sale, the anti-slavery nonprofit behind the app, graded hundreds of brands representing thousands of products, including jewelry, electronics and even chocolate. An “A” doesn’t mean a company is completely free of slavery, but it does mean that they’re making positive steps in four key areas: policies, monitoring, transparency, and worker rights. Failing brands are doing hardly anything to address the problem.

Send a Note to Your Favorite Brand

Slavery exists in most of the products we use every day. In fact child laborers mine 40 percent of the gold mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And thousands of people are forced to extract palm oil, an ingredient found in 70 percent of cosmetics. Advocate for those who can't do it themselves by heading to madeinafreeworld.com. The website will help you send a message to brands like Hershey, Estee Lauder and Gap letting them know that you want them to end forced labor in their supply chains.

Spread the Wordslavery END_IT_logo

Let your friends and followers know that you won't stand for slavery. Spread the word about Shine a Light on Slavery Day by using the #ENDITMOVEMENT hashtag. Learn more at enditmovement.com.

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