Another elephant in the room

Slavery Footprint tells you how many slaves are working for you around the world, based on your lifestyle and the products you use. The name of the app itself is scary, because we assume that slavery is a thing of the past. The truth is that forced labour is deeply embedded in every supply chain (even in first world markets). For instance, in my own hometown (Meerut), 6 year old children stitch footballs for well-known American and European brands, and earn 8 cents for 15 hours of work each day.

The survey did require require a lot of input, but it was so engaging, with beautiful illustrations, fun interactions and animations. See? - drag the sliders to tell the app how many clothes you’ve got in your closet. I could specify exactly how many toothbrushes, pillows, socks and bulbs I have, but I was eager to get to the result and so I rushed through it.

It’s ironic how I felt that doing the survey was too much work, when the objective was to find out how many people sweat their lives for me.

So I’ve got 33 slaves working for me, most of them in China and India. I wasn’t satisfied so I went back and fine tuned my answers, and my new result was 22 slaves. But exactly how much of this was because of my toothbrush? I wished to see a more detailed connection between my data and the result and the beautiful illustrations.

I liked the fact that I could take some action after learning all this. I sent notes for action to Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Colgate, Reebok and Dove. I put my scores on facebook and twitter and signed up as a volunteer.

My slave count might be 22 or 33 or some other number, but this survey surely forced me to think about who makes my products, and now I’m conscious about all the stuff I own: gadgets, clothes, food, medicines. I’m yet to see how this information will connect people and inspire them to change, but I’m positive.