Updated: Aug 4
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are nearby, and it is important to be aware of the manufacturing processes of products you might purchase. Numerous companies use child labor and implement poor working conditions and environmentally detrimental practices to produce commodities we are dependent on. Companies often outsource to countries, which lack oversight and regulation of human rights practices, for cheap labor. There are 152.1 children, 500,000 in the US, suffering through this problem. You can make an impact by holding these companies accountable by refusing to buy their products. We acknowledge that it is hard to stop using products that you rely on, so start small.
Some Companies that Use Child/Slave Labor or Have Poor Working Conditions: (For more information, you can click on the company. Some of these companies have codes of conduct that incorporates international standards prohibiting forced/child labor, but often these codes are not enforced, especially in the supplier chains. Additionally, some of these companies have admitted to using child/slave labor and have promised to address it; however, they have not fulfilled these promises)
Nestle/Mars/Cadbury/Hershey's: Twenty years after promising to stop using child labor, Cadury and Hershey’s along with other chocolate companies have not made much progress in eradicating child labor. These companies' supply chains exploit malnourished and impoverished children from ages 12 and above in Africa. There are buses that continuously transport trafficked children from Burkina Faso, a country in Africa, to work in cocoa fields in the Ivory Coast. Here is a quote from the Independent of a child laborer who works to make the chocolate sold at Cadbury. “[Abou Traore] says, eventually, that he’s been working the cocoa farms in Ivory Coast since he was 10. The other four boys say they are young, too – one says he is 15, two are 14 and another, 13. Abou says his back hurts, and he’s hungry. “I came here to go to school,” Abou says. “I haven’t been to school for five years now.”
Starbucks: Some investigators raided Starbuck’s coffee plantation in Brazil, finding workers who experienced conditions similar to modern-day slavery. According to Citizen Truth,“[the investigators] found workers living in degrading conditions and substandard housing without sewage or drinking water which they called analogous to slavery. The workers lived in collective housing in conditions that put workers’ health at risk. Workers told investigators that dead bats were often found in the water containers that they were told to use for drinking and eating, the containers were uncovered.”
Forever 21: This company has been sued multiple times for labor rights violations and “sweatshop-like conditions” for its workers. According to Business Insider, “One Los Angeles factory worker (Forever 21) told Bloomberg BusinessWeek she was paid 12 cents a piece to sew vests that sell for $13.80. It would take 67 vests an hour to earn $8 minimum wage.” Unlike its competitors, Forever 21 has not joined movements against child labor, such as Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, unlike its competitiors.
Aeropostale/Urban Outfitters: Uzbekistan's government has continuously forced millions of children to leave school to work in cotton fields. Unlike Aeropostale, numerous companies, like Gap and Levi’s, have created policies to prohibit the use of Uzbek cotton and have spoken out against child and slave labor in the cotton industry.
H&M: In 2015, the company had 31 out of 72 illegal contacts with suppliers. H&M outsources to Cambodia and India, forcing laborers to work excessive hours in dangerous environments for low wages. A garment worker in Cambodia stated: "We often get sick around once a month. We don’t eat enough and work too much trying to maximize the piece rate. Also, we don’t stop to go to the bathroom. We often work through lunch breaks or go back into work early, so there is hardly any time to rest."
Zara/Mango: Child Syrian refugees from Turkey often make products illegally for these companies. Many of their supply chains are in Istanbul, where Turkish children as young as ten-years-old work in hazardous factories.
Topshop/Primark: These companies manufacture products in supply factories in India, Tanzania, and Pakistan, employing child laborers.
Disney: This company has multiple factories in China, where people, including children, work in unbearable working conditions.
More… (Look at the next pages)