What’s your Slavery Footprint?

by shannon carlin


I consider myself a conscious consumer. I like to know where the things I buy are made so I don’t feel any guilt when I slip on that dress or use that new mascara. But just because these things weren’t made in Taiwanese sweatshops doesn’t mean they’re entirely guilt-free. There’s still the question of where the sum of the parts were made. Where did the minerals come from for that eyeshadow? Or where did they get the cotton for that t-shirt?

Slavery Footprint, an online calculator and app, is trying to answer these questions with their survey. They’ll figure out just how much your lifestyle depends on forced labor. 

According to Call + Response, an anti-slavery organization, there are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today, which is roughly the combined population of Australia and New Zealand. It also means there are more slaves in the world today than any other time in history. 

The 11-question survey asks you to itemize just what’s in your bathroom cabinets, kitchen cupboards and closets. How many diamond necklaces do you own? How many gadgets do you have? It all adds up. The survey never asks for specific brands and never tries to make you feel bad. Instead they want to use knowledge to change the current state of things. 

Once you’ve got your number you can use the app (created by Call + Response in collaboration with the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons) to send letters to your favorite brands to see if forced labor was used at any point in the making of their product. The hope is that these brands will become more socially aware and begin to take responsibility for every aspect of their product. 

You can take the survey here.

Let us know you number in the comments below.  Were you surprised?


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