June 12th is World Day Against Child Labor. Believe it or not, this is a significant day considering that 152 million children are forced into labor worldwide. Yes, you read that right: 152 million children work long hours in unsafe conditions for very little pay. 48% of these children are between 5 and 11 years old. It’s mind-blowing that in 2020, we still support companies that rely on child labor and act like it’s completely acceptable!
Chances are that adults forced children to help manufacture many of the products you use on a daily basis. Fortunately, though, we can easily take a stand against this cruelty. We can choose to support businesses that provide their employees safe, fair working conditions for their employees. Buying fair-trade-certified products ensures that businesses not only treat their laborers well, but they also fairly compensate employees for their work.
World Day Against Child Labor is the perfect time to shop fair-trade businesses. Here are some options for every type of product you could want:
1. Buy clothes that make you look and feel good.
The fashion industry is huge and ever-changing, which forces companies to find cheap labor. Children involuntarily work in all stages of the supply chain. Some children spend long days in cotton fields and come into contact with all sorts of dangerous chemicals. Others labor in factories that violate international labor laws to spin yarn and assemble garments. People often assume that higher-quality factories make their expensive designer products, but it’s actually the other way around. Rankings show that luxury brands score lower on worker’s rights and wage scales.
Clothing companies that use child labor: H&M, Forever 21, Gap, Nike, Zara, Urban Outfitters, Aldo, Primark, Adidas, Walmart, Victoria’s Secret, and Aeropostale.
Fair-trade clothing companies you should support today: Patagonia, People Tree, YOGOSMOGA, prAna, Indigenous, PACT, Cotopaxi, Good & Fair, Undrest, Apolis, Alternative Apparel, and Kotn.
2. Ditch the drugstore candy for some delicious and guilt-free chocolate.
70% of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa. Unfortunately, more than 2 million children work in brutal conditions in the cocoa-growing regions. On average, West African cocoa farmers earn $2 a day. Because of this, they seek out child workers in order to keep their prices competitive. Most of the children who work on the cocoa farms are 12-16 years old, but some are even younger. These children spend long days in hazardous environments handling dangerous equipment that violates international labor laws – without access to protective equipment.
Candy companies that use child labor: Nestle, Hershey, Mars, Cadbury, Crunch, Kraft, and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM).
Fair-trade candy companies you should support today: Alter Eco, Divine, Endangered Species, Theo, and Equal Exchange.
3. Try fair-trade coffee and tea.
If you can’t live without a hot drink in the morning, support coffee and tea brands that take a strong stance against child labor, publicly disclose of all suppliers and factories, and invest in community projects.
Instead of hitting up your closest Starbucks or Coffee Bean, order fair-trade coffee and tea products to stand up against child labor.
Fair-trade coffee brands you should support today: Equal Exchange, Larry’s Coffee, Higher Ground Roasters, Grumpy Mule, Wandering Bear Coffee, and Rise Up Coffee Roasters
Fair-trade tea brands you should support today: Honest, Equal Exchange, Whole Foods Market Brand, Bridgehead, Clipper Teas, Numi Teas, Tega Organic Tea, and Pluck Teas
As a society, we need to focus on who produces the products we use each day and push to buy products that don’t use child labor in their production. When we purchase goods that child laborers produce, we invest our money in the already-wealthy and ensure that the child labor remains part of our economy. Today, buy fair-trade products to celebrate World Day Against Child Labor. Not only will you change your own life, but you’ll also improve the lives of children around the world.