Human trafficking is the fastest-growing and second-largest criminal industry in the world, generating roughly $150.2 billion worldwide. Global estimates from the International Labor Organization (ILO) indicate that 160 million children between 5-17 years old were engaged in child labor in 2021 an increase of 8.4 million children in child labor in the last four years. According to author Lucas Moore â€œForced labor trafficking is when people are employed to perform work against their will, with some sort of threat motivating them to perform. Victims of trafficking are often deceived into working, manipulated with violence, left in poverty due to debts owed, or imprisoned. Victims might have their passports revoked, or be told they will be reported to the government as illegal immigrants if they do not work—recent immigrants are sometimes targeted for this very reason. Other victims are manipulated into labor because of threats made to their family members.”
Do you know how your favorite goods are made? Although we want to help, it’s easy to feel powerless to stop these grave abuses against women, children, and men. Human trafficking thrives in secrecy, yet it still touches many facets of our lives. Every day, we have a choice to interrupt human trafficking schemes and fight for the rights of all people. This is because many common products — from the lamp in your living room to the table in your office — could be made by people who are not earning a living wage.
Items you use every day may be produced by child or forced labor.
Conscious consumerism — sometimes called ethical consumerism or conscientious consumerism — is shopping in ways one believes makes a positive social, environmental, or economic impact.
Let’s take Mianzi Butterfly Chair as an example. The lifecycle of this beautiful award-winning chair starts as a grass-bamboo, growing in the rural regions of India. Local farmers are provided with training to have better control over the successful growth and harvest of Bamboo organically. This helps the local farmers to ensure that they keep their land fertile and do not lose their time and money with unhealthy produce.
There are 16 species of bamboo that are commercially available in India and each species has their individual characteristics and are used for a different purpose. The selection of the right variety of Bamboo in consideration of the product being designed is essential. For structural sections of the butterfly chair, Bambusa Bambos and Bambusa Strictus are used. These bamboos now go through a series of patented processing methods and are hand-engineered precisely in accordance with the design. These chairs are zero waste and compostable.
All the heritage artisans who work on this chair are provided with an inspiring atmosphere to work in. They work eight-hour shifts with three breaks and paid weekends off. Apart from that, they get all the facilities and extra activities like trips in line with humanitarian ethical manufacturing practices and fairtrade. Further, 50% of the employees are women and get equal wages. This is how a brand does not swallow the lion’s share of the profit but shares it with the makers. Mianzi Butterfly chair is a live example of a product being not only avant-garde in design and aesthetics but being sustainable and ethical as well.
What can you do?
Our choices, our actions through centuries have led us to this chaos, this destruction we are stuck in today. And our choices, no matter how small, how inconsequential in their impact they seem, will decide what our future and the future of this planet will be like tomorrow.
- Reducing the number of products you buy.
- When researching what products to buy, consider the environmental and social impact across its whole lifecycle. It’s not only about picking a product that is manufactured sustainably but also about where it will go after it is used. Zero waste or recyclable waste is an important aspect that should not be overlooked. We know this can be tough and requires some extra effort, but there are many brands that make it easy and once you know, you know.
- Before recycling, think if you can repurpose or reuse first
- Try going vegetarian or vegan, at least some of the time, and buy local and organic food if possible
- Walk, cycle or use public transport instead of driving
- Switch to a renewable energy supplier
- Cut out the single-use
- Purchase carbon offsets to reduce or cancel out your carbon footprint.
who care about the effect their money and resources have on the world will continue to evolve—and how their influence over the future of the planet will grow.
We shouldn’t give up on our everyday lifestyle changes that help us socially and environmentally become more aware. We should start by taking small, baby steps and refraining from purchases unless really necessary. Reduction of our consumption is so important. Embracing the consumption process is delightful once we realize the scale of impact: we can collectively make a real difference in every conscious purchase we make. The earth is changing, and it is time we change the way we consume too.