Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Slavery Footprint

54 slaves. 54 individuals. 54 people who are "forced to work without pay, being economically exploited, and unable to walk away." In terms of my world, 54 people is all of the staff from the medium-sized non-profit I work for (plus 5).

I recently took a survey that calculated my Slavery Footprint. The survey began with basic information questions before asking questions related to consumption habits. For basic information it took into consideration my location, age, gender, and number of children. Next it asked questions about my possessions and consumption habits: what's under my roof, what's on my plate, what's in my medicine cabinet (or make-up bag), what's in my jewelry box, my electronics, sporting goods equipment, and lastly what's in my closet.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I was embarrassed by the number 54 (or rather the reality of 54 slaves). The score represents the number of forced laborers that were likely to be involved in creating and manufacturing the products I own and purchase. The biggest contributors for me were clothing and electronics. Now, I will freely admit I have a lot of clothes. In fact the question what's in my closet would more aptly ask what's on my floor. However, I had never thought much about my electronics. A laptop, iPod, basic cell phone, DVD player, TV, and digital camera.

In the last few years, "fair-trade" has incorporated itself into my regular vocabulary. It typically is an adjective to describe food and clothes. I had never thought of using it for electronics.

An article by the "The Journal" (Transforming Education Through Technology), published in March of this year, reflects on Apple's decision to invite the Fair Trade Association into its factories. At the end of the article, author Therese Mageau asks, "Isn't the world ready for a Fair Trade Electronics organization?" The question was asked after referring to people who decide to pay more money for fair-trade chocolate and coffee.

Back to my footprint. At the end of the survey, the website gave me the following options: Send a note (legislation), Recruit (others), Share (my results), Donate, Lobby, Volunteer, or Analog Activity (use their Free World app for Android or iPhone). It also left me with the image above--the not-so-distant chain from me to slaves.

I encourage you to take the survey. To consider things you didn't know needed to be fair-trade. To take a next-step.

Slavery Footprint. <http://www.slaveryfootprint.org
Mageau, Therese. "THE Journal." Fair Trade Electronics. 8 Mar. 2012. Web. 18 May 2012 <http://thejournal.com/articles/2012/03/09/fair-trade-electronics.aspx>.

Written by Briana Iacovetta. Briana graduated from Gordon College in 2011 with a degree in Social Work. She currently works at Girl Inc. of Lynn, a non-profit serving girls ages 5 to 18 in after-school and summer programs, as the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator.
To learn more about Amirah, or to support our work, please visit www.amirahboston.org .

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