Stories break every so often about the illegal, degrading working conditions of the people who make our things. These images, of children working in mines, or workers locked into tiny bunks after their 12-hour workday, appear frequently and briefly in the news. Made in a Free World is a nonprofit that’s trying bring public attention to the prevalence of child labor and bonded labor.
The ethics surrounding consumption are complicated. No one likes to think about the conditions in which their T-shirts were made. Made in a Free World wants consumers to face the reality of their purchases and to stop seeing these human rights abuses as “someone else’s problem”. They are attacking the issue of slave labor from both the supply and demand sides, by helping to free slave laborers and providing them with resources, as well as by educating companies about the dangers of working with suppliers who used forced labor, and encouraging them to be cautious about every link in their supply chain.
On Made in a Free World’s website, you can take the engaging but disturbing quiz, called How Many Slaves Work For You? The quiz asks you questions about your consumption habits, using a fun and colorful format that sharply contrasts to the grim outcome of the quiz.
The most powerful stories on Made in a Free World’s website comes from the children they have freed from slavery. Stories of seven and eight year-old Ghanaian children working 18 hour days, diving into rough waters to untangle fishnets. Children forced to do backbreaking labor in dangerous mines. The website reminds us that these children do not exist in a world so far from ours; 25% of the fish they catch is sold in Europe and North America, and much of the minerals used in our household products are mined in Asia and Africa.
If you want to learn more about Made in a Free World, you can check out their page on the Universal Giving Website.