39 Slaves

October 20, 2011

Check out this new website which helps calculate your slavery footprint. Think of your carbon footprint, but instead of greenhouse gases, you’ll be looking at how many slaves contributed to your lifestyle.

Due in large part to our techie gadgets, we have 39 slaves working for our household. Ouch! When I first heard about human trafficking, I was drawn into the issue by the prospect of doing something about the sex trafficking of women and children. I was indignant that people could treat others this way. As I’ve learned more, I’ve seen that I’m a big part of the problem. Slavery is supported by my consumption patterns. My clothes. My electronics. My chocolate. My sugar. My shrimp.

I’m sober and moving forward- I want to bring my number down. I would encourage you to stop in at slaveryfootprint.org and take the survey to determine your slavery footprint. I found it to be interesting and informative. I hope you will, too

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5 Responses to “39 Slaves”

  1. Drew Says:

    Remarkable. I honestly had no idea. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Linnaea Says:

    56 slaves. Kids, electronics kills, although I fare better in the shrimp consumption (0)and other consumption metrics… Thanks for posting. Lots of the side bytes horrifyingly informative.

  3. Robin Johnson Simpson Says:

    “horrifyingly informative”- so true. I’m thinking of it as a starting point. I don’t think we’re really compelled to do anything about our consumption patterns until we understand the ramifications of our spending. But, once we understand the human (and often environmental) impact, we can begin to make different choices. Or to not consume particular things. Or to slow down our purchasing cycle. What about the electronics?! What to do with that?

  4. majorasue Says:

    While an interesting exercise (I clock in at 32 slaves), I wish there were options in there to show that you are using free trade or local providers. I raise most of my own meat & eggs, raise and spin my own yarn, buy local fruits & veggies whenever possible. Yes, electronics was my biggest hit, but an option for DVDs and CDs without players would be nice (I use the laptop).

    I do have a question about your take on slave labor. On your 36/365 blog, you mention that you feel it’s ok to buy objectionably made things at the thrift store. Isn’t bad bad, no matter if someone else bought it first? I’m a big thrift store junkie too, but I’m usually going for silk and rayon fabrics. If they fit someone in the family, great. If not, I deconstruct them and use them in new ways.

    • Robin Johnson Simpson Says:

      I know the tool isn’t perfect, but I think it’s a great start. Due to external factors, Justin Dillon and his crew were on a very tight timeline in launching this site. He’s a smart guy who is passionate about this cause- I’m confident that his team will get it figured out.

      On the other question, my biggest issue is where my money goes. Who am I supporting? What can I control? I can control what I say and what I write. I can control how I spend my money. With most thrift stores, the money is going to a good cause, and I’m keeping “stuff” out of the landfill. I draw the line in buying goods that would advertise for a questionable brand. For example, I wouldn’t buy something from Nike in a thrift store because I don’t want anyone in my family to be free advertising for that particular company.


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