Every piece of clothing, every food you eat, every building or piece of furniture like a chair has a supply chain. A supply chain is a series of actions needed in order to make the final product.
For example, in order to make the shirt you are wearing today:
The cotton had to be grown in a farm, then it had to be picked. Then it had to be spun into thread. Then it had to be knitted or weaved together. Then it has to be processed to make a large sheet of fabric. Then it has to be cut and sewn into the shape of your shirt. Then the buttons have to be put on. Then they have to be sold to a company like Tesco’s, or Debenhams and then they get put on the racks at the shop. And finally, you buy them.
Wow! That’s a long journey to make a shirt. That long journey – that’s called the supply chain.
And it’s the same for food, drinks, phones, clothes, furniture, the bricks to make a building – each object has a supply chain.
Now, the problem is, is that at any point in that supply chain whether it be planting the cotton, sewing the shirts or selling them at the shop, slavery could’ve occurred. The company who was growing the cotton could’ve forced a little girl to work in the boiling heat on a farm for 12 hours a day. Or the owner of the factory could’ve forced a boy to sit at a sewing machine sewing shirts without any breaks, food or money.
So it is really important to be a conscientious consumer. This means when you buy clothes or food or stay at hotel – ask that company what they are doing to tackle slavery in their supply chains.
And if you’re buying from a company that isn’t doing anything to stop slavery, write to them – write a letter, email them – tell them that they need to be doing something to help end slavery! You might think that by you just writing to them nothing is going to happen – trust me – from personal experience it definitely works!
Here are 4 examples of companies who aren’t doing anything about slavery:
1. Cadburys – to make your chocolates they get children to go out into the forests of Indonesia to pick cocoa beans for 12 hours a day every single say of the year. They don’t pay them, and they only let them go to sleep if they pick a certain amount of cocoa beans.
2. The Premier League – often when building stadiums, hiring cleaners to clean stadiums or those making the football kits – these people are slaves. Workers don’t get paid and again are forced to do this work. The Premier League has no transparency over slavery in their supply chains.
3. Kellogg’s – to make your crunchy nut, cornflakes and many other cereals they need grain. And Kellogg’s forces children and adults to pick this grain. And they don’t admit publicly that they are doing this.
4. Loreal – in order to make these amazing shampoos and cosmetics, Loreal need to use Mica. Mica is a mineral used to create a shimmer in make-up. A quarter of the world’s mica comes from Northeast India where around 20,000 children are estimated to work in hundreds of mica mines.
But there are companies who are working towards a supply chain free of slavery:
2. Marks and Spencer’s
All these companies have won the Stop Slavery Award and are actively taking steps to eradicate slavery in their companies and are proving to the public that they are.
We can take it one step further! Here are two companies that are completely free of slavery:
1. Tony’s Chocolate – you can buy these at Sainsburys, and Waitrose and they taste absolutely delicious! And the best thing is – is that they are completely 100% slavery free!
2. Know the Origin – this company sells a large variety of products. Woman’s clothing, men’s clothing, toiletries such as toothbrushes, bedsheets, bags, accessories, water bottles, pencil cases and so many more products – again the best thing is – is that every single product is slavery free! No slavery whatsoever!
A recent dicovery in a way we can seek out slavery in our supply chains is by using DNA. To see how, take a look at the video: