How Many Slaves Work For You?


Written by Margret Aldrich, from the Utne Reader

You’ve probably never thought of yourself as a supporter of slavery, but the online tool Slavery Footprint reveals evidence of forced labor in your closet, your garage, your refrigerator, and every other corner of your life.

“Last month marked the anniversary of the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, which we all know ended slavery for good 149 years ago, right? Wrong,” writes Yuka Yoneda for Inhabitat. She continues: “While that’s what we in America are taught in our textbooks, slavery is still alive and well around the world (including in the U.S.). In fact, most of us have several slaves working for us at this very moment.”

Complete Slavery Footprint’s artfully designed survey to calculate the number of slaves who work for you, based on your lifestyle and the products you buy. Included are questions about family, housing, clothing, electronics, make-up, sex, and food, along with disturbing facts of modern-day enslavement. For example, Slavery Footprint writes:

Bonded labor is used for much of Southeast Asia’s shrimping industry, which supplies more shrimp to the U.S. than any other country. Laborers work up to 20-hour days to peel 40 pounds of shrimp. Those who attempt to escape are under constant threat of violence or sexual assault.

Numerous products, down to the sporting goods in your hall closet, are the result of forced labor, asserts the website. “In China, soccer ball manufacturers will work up to 21 hours in a day, for a month straight.”

The site offers hope for consumer redemption (even if your score was as shamefully high as mine: 38!), with a free download of their antislavery app. “With the Made in a Free World app, you can check in at stores, asking brands about slavery in their supply chain as you shop,” they write, “and use it to counteract your slavery footprint.”

This post was originally published by the Utne Reader.


Related Stories:

An End to Violence? Could the Dream Be in Sight?

Slave Labor in Tomatoland

What the World is Doing to Prevent Human Trafficking and Slavery


Photo from catrina.dulay via flickr creative commons


Alina Kanaski
Alina Kanaski4 years ago

Thanks so much for sharing!

If you'd like to do more, please sign my petition for slavery-free chocolate:

colleen p.
colleen p6 years ago

the convicts who are working. they all have the same crimes? some people don't think those in jail for Marijuana possesion should be treated as if they chopped off the arms of a baby.

eh, law are laws, rules are rules.

perhaps our problem in everything is everyone wants everything all the time, and in good quality. thus others are relied in a complex system. then we say it is a right. everyone has a right to have everything all the time. people have a right to have "fresh" tomatos in the dead of a washington state winter. but then were do they come from? progressive green house farmers in California, who use volenteers? pay good pay to anyone? or those "Mexican slaves".

a long time ago, not everyone had everything all the time. some were more self relient. and families worked on strict gender roles. someone made the cloth, you bought cloth and sew for family. or someone raised sheep(horror) shorn them, made yarn. people bought yarn and those people could feed the sheep or them-self.

but now, if you use wool, you buy a sweater and the company and store gets the money. if you don't wear wool you use vegeterian fibers that might be 40% plant.

the only way everyone is "happy" is going back to family self inefficiency with a hunter-gatherer life, or paleo argerian way intergrated. if you did not catch that deer then you have no meat. if you found only one woven basket of berries, that is all you got.

maybe some of you/us should also just eat seasonally. it's g

colleen p.
colleen p6 years ago

Shalvah L.

the person who caters more to their cat also only cares that some poor farmers use animals in place of machines. those are the true slaves. poor mules who plow fields of being living in the world of the 16th century who don't want a tractor that takes gas. or those Indian, or Tai loggers who have elephants to do the dirty work. sad elephants.

those people do care more about animals.

care2 is one of the easyist sites to troll. all you have to do is support animals to grandious levels on human issues and vise versa.

so what India treats their women and girls like crap! at least they don't slaughter and abuse mother cow. we should take a chapter from Hindu animal reverence "only" India as. and then give our girls names that mean "unwanted" if we didn't drowned them.
but hey. those people don't eat beef. or do they?

these are people who not only want 0 population growth, but want to make it illegal to kill any animal for any reason, and make it legal to hunt humans.

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Pat Vee
Pat Vee6 years ago

This site is flawed,and does not give a true picture.I am not saying that slavery does not exist because we know it does.

Shalvah Landy
Past Member 6 years ago

As disturbing as this article is, I found some comments left here by "care" members even worse. As a response to an article trying to awaken consciousness in people, these people behind the comments who KNOW BETTER, sleep peacefully at night, they have their slaves working for them!
"My cat is addicted to this brand of cat food that is made in Thailand, and you know how Thai companies use slaves to make that food. I hate it, of course, but she is a kitteh; she cant careless about human rights" Obviously YOU are the one who couldn't care less!
"I hear sometimes tea is grown by slaves. but someone else owns them. not me.
and sometimes our goods are made by little kids. I know some teens I'd love to whip and work like one of those abused oxen or elephants"
"...You can bet that there are still a lot of businesses that have terrible working conditions in the world, but there is not much most of us can do about it.
And as for the articles writer claiming we all have slaves working for us, .. that's a very stupid comment to be making because it's not even close to being the truth. "

Lika S.
Lika P6 years ago

Well, something is messed up with the calculator. I can't get past step 3. Btw, I buy from thrift stores, and go to regular grocery stores, not discount stores, and the food I buy comes from within the USA, and hopefully as local as possible. I also utilize the area farmers' markets.

We have our tools, and we are on a tight budget because we can't afford handymen or nannies to maintain our household. I think this is probably a stupid survey anyway, just to lay guilt trips on people. Maybe it's a good thing it won't let me go past if I have children or not.

Zoe B.
Zoe B6 years ago

Sue, i'd say the best thing is to not buy anything "made in China", or "made in PRC", that alone, goes a long way.

Sue T.
Susan T6 years ago

no. your map could not even get my location correct.

And so if I stop buying anything will that help?

Hana Bosco
Hana Bosco6 years ago

Interesting, thank you