19 October 2011

How Many Slaves Work for You?

Slavery has existed for as long as there has been civilization. Many nations and empires were built by the bloody sweat of slaves. Few human practices have provoked such deep and widespread outrage as the practice of one human being enslaving another.

And because at school we are taught about slavery in History lessons we often carry on with the belief that slavery is in the past. The sad truth is that currently there are about 30 million slaves around the world (a bit more than the population of Texas) working for the whim of a few developed nations and the establishment of their wrong idea of well-being.

Reports from the Environmental Justice Foundation state that Uzbekistan, which is the second biggest cotton exporter in the world (after the US) employs child labor. About 1,4 million children as young as 12 work long days in the field, miles from their homes. According to The Guardian:
There have also been reports of physical and sexual abuse. Only once the harvest is finished are they allowed home. Eyewitness accounts report that pregnant women have also been working. Around 40% of all cotton from Uzbekistan is made into clothes and products in Bangladesh, and a large percentage of the cheap cotton products in the UK comes via Bangladesh.

Every day tens of thousands of American women buy makeup. Every day tens of thousands of Indian children mine mica, which is the little sparklies in the makeup.

While I admit it is unrealistic to try to stop slavery in Asia or Africa, what we can do to help is to rethink our needs and define our wants; we can change our own lifestyles in order to decrease the demand of products that we can live without.

Take the Slavery Footprint survey. Based on where you live, what you own, what you wear, what and how much you eat you will be presented with the number of slaves around the world that work to get you these. It is a wakeup call even for those of us who try to reduce and live a sustainable life.

Yes, this is my result - there are 22 slaves working for me. 22! One less than what everybody else has but still - a shockingly great number. Despite my efforts to live a simple life, to have as little as possible to do with mainstream makeup/food/clothes... I even don't use a shampoo but wash my hair with baking soda!

Now imagine a house with 22 slaves working for just one person. It is obvious that conscious green living takes much more consideration than we can even imagine.

I want to set my slaves free! How about you?