How many slaves work for you?

24 09 2011

How many slaves work for you?

This is how Slaveryfootprint.org receives you. Slavery Footprint is a new project that calculates a score of slaves (forced labor) that have worked for the products you use after you complete a survey on your consumer habits. The score is based on slaves involved in the several steps of manufacturing the product, including the source materials. They include anything from electronics to jewelry to food.

Slavery Footprint makes you uncomfortable, it provokes a response from the user. It is not nice to see that people were forced to work for what you are using, knowing that people might have been physically maltreated is something that, I hope, would make the most capitalist of us stir uncomfortably on their chairs. They prompt you to think of what you are consuming, where it comes from, and demand from companies that they take a compromised action against slavery in the world by becoming ourselves compromised first. That is why this website was needed.

This is a topic that comes once and again in my house, during late night conversations and moments of ‘fixing the world’ over coffee. The industrialized world is against child labor and slavery, but we do not much to make sure that we are not responsible of it happening in developing countries. I guess a lot of us think like that because people were so excited about Slavery Footprint, that the day of their release they had so many visits that they had to move to a server with 50 times the bandwidth! Now, that is refreshing!

After passing by and completing their survey, I would like to have an ‘about’ section explaining who the people behind the project are and what motivated them to build the site (currently it brings you to the ‘get the apps’). An easier way to navigate the site would be great too. As it stands now, the site is very unidirectional, with links disappearing as you advance through it. For example, there is no way to go back home or to read the “about” page  once you leave home.

I would also like to have the option to choose for local products. For example, when asked about what I eat there is no way to say that we buy from a CSA, therefore our fruits and veggies are local. It is extremely unlikely that the farmers at the farmers stand are employing slave labor in Western PA, that is not taken into account. Same with my cloth diapers, they are made by moms that work at home in USA. However, these things are assumed to come from countries that have forced labor.

The main fault I see is that there is a template of a letter to send to several companies listed in the site demanding to know about their practices regarding slave work. I would gladly send this letter, except that it mentions a survey that I can’t see, and I am not about to send a letter of this nature (any letter, to tell you the truth) that I am not aware of its contents. I cannot tell a company that I will assume they are involved in slavery when I don’t even know what I’m asking them.

All in all I think this is a wonderful project that will bring awareness about a very important topic in which all of us should be involved, but it needs some polishing to reach its full potential.

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