5 Companies That Still Use Slave Labor

5 Companies That Still Use Slave Labor

Let's talk about the modern slave trade.
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Growing up in a country where freedom is always a right and expectation — whether you live in the United States or one of the other 86 "free" countries — it is easy to believe that, compared to the well-known 1800s slave trade, we are doing pretty well when it comes to civil liberties, freedom, and overall social welfare. Documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) have been approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations, meaning that the vast majority of nations have agreed that every individual has the right to basic human dignity.

Despite this significant progress, however, there are 45.8 million people enslaved today, more than any other time in world history. The United States Department of Homeland Security has launched the Blue Campaign in light of this growing industry, hoping to raise awareness of the human trafficking that persists in local communities. Additionally, you can watch this video for a summary on the Global Slavery pandemic. I will write about the problem of human trafficking in the United States on another day; however, global slavery affects us whether it is in our city or halfway around the world. In fact, companies that you purchase from every single day use slave labor for their work instead of paying employees a fair wage.* Don't believe me?

Here are five companies that are using slave labor to make their products TODAY, and where you should shop instead.

Nestle

Nestle is one of the largest companies that has consistently carried out human rights violations all over the world. Not only did they illegally take water from California during the drought in 2015, but in the 1970s they got third-world mothers to use infant formula by selling it at reduced prices, and then when the mothers could no longer breastfeed, they raised the price of formula so much that many children were malnourished and starving.

Their most recent problems revolve around slavery in the cocoa industry. In 2009 several former child slaves sued Nestle because they were trafficked and forced to work on Nestle farms in Cote d'Ivoire. Another suit was filed by former child slaves in 2014, stating that "Studies by International Labour Organization, UNICEF, the Department of State, and numerous other organizations have confirmed that thousands of children are forced to work without pay in the Ivorian economy." In 2016, the Fair Labor Association executed an assessment of Nestle in Cote d'Ivoire. They claimed that 70% of Nestle farms were not trained on the prohibition of forced labor. Further, they stated that "there is no process in place to monitor, report, and remediate cases of forced labor at the farms." With this in mind, they did find evidence of potential forced and uncompensated labor. Additionally, they found evidence of child labor—many of these children never enrolling in school — in which children were getting paid little to nothing, and often working in dangerous conditions.

INSTEAD: buy from Ben & Jerry's or Theo. They will satisfy your sweet tooth and are Fair-Trade guaranteed.

Nike

Nike has REALLY cleaned up their act in the last several years, but with a standard of no slave labor, they still have quite a way to go. In 1992, activist Jeff Ballinger published an exposé in "Harpers" that revealed the story of a child in Indonesia working in disgusting conditions, and for a mere 14 cents per hour (far below the minimum wage in Indonesia at the time).

Since then, Nike has begun to report supply chain information. The most recent report claims that, in 2016, only 86% of their factories were up to the minimum standards they set. Though they give a good indication of how far the company has come, these standards are set by Nike and assessed internally, making it difficult to compare standards to a universal one.

INSTEAD: shop at Patagonia! All products here are Fair Trade Certified!

Starbucks

Starbucks claims a mission for ethical sourcing, meaning their company policy requires them to abide by a standard of "ethical sourcing" that they have created. They only have two Fair-Trade coffees available for purchase. After the development charity Oxfam reported that Starbucks was depriving Ethiopian coffee growers of $90 million every year, Starbucks was challenged by the public eye to “clean up their act,” and did so by creating their own “ethical sourcing” standards, that they implement themselves, and certify 99% of their coffee with. Whether or not these standards are viable, they are not Fair Trade Certified at this time.

The U.S. Department of Labor has a list of locations and goods that use forced and child labor. Starbucks lists coffees from countries such as Guatamala, Kenya, Costa Rica and Panama; however, none of these single-sourced coffees are certified by them as “Fair Trade.” Rather, they are all regions that are known to use child labor.

INSTEAD: buy the Starbucks Italian Roast and Café Estima; they are certified by Fair Trade! You can also order online from Café Justo, Jurang and Equal Exchange —entire companies dedicated to producing Fair Trade coffee.

H&M

A 2016 report stated that as of December 31, 2015, 31 out of 72 H&M suppliers were using illegal contracts. In other words, these contracts allowed for wrongful termination. Now I know what you are thinking: the current system of hiring/firing in the U.S. is full of problems, and it takes way too much work to fire a bad employee in most cases. Well, the situation in countries like Cambodia and India are a little different. Often times, employees of H&M will be forced to work for excessive overtime hours—far beyond the legal limit—with no increase in their weekly take home pay. They are also often working in sweatshop conditions, with no breaks and unsanitary environments. Moreover, the contracts allow the factory to fire a worker for refusing to work these long hours. In fact, 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."

INSTEAD: shop at one of these other retailers that are guaranteed to have fair-trade labor!

Walmart

Well, this one is probably the least suprising yet. According to a 2016 report by the Wage Alliance on Walmart's value chain, Walmart refused to sign the 2013 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh that 200 companies signed following the collapse of Rana Plaza. It also stated that all 14 factories in Cambodia were studied, and they all violated local overtime laws consistently, with some forcing 14 hour work days without overtime pay "in sweltering heat, without adequate supply of clean drinking water or any breaks." These same conditions were expressed by workers in factories in India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. The report continued to list countless instances of workers given severely less than they were promised, or even cases where owners of factories fled without paying workers at all.

INSTEAD: OK, I know it's hard to pass up Walmart prices. However, here is a full list of companies that are fair trade. Even if you start small, I know you can find a way to cut back on your slavery footprint! Want to know how many slaves work for you now? Visit the Slavery Footprint mission to find out.

*I use the term “fair wage” because many people who are enslaved are trapped in a cycle of debt bondage. This means that an individual or family works for pennies per hour to pay off an ever-increasing debt. Oftentimes this debt is passed down for generations. To learn more about debt bondage and other forms of slavery, visit the non-profit End Slavery Now, here.

Cover Image Credit: iragelb / Flickr

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14 Fraternity Guy Gifts Ideas, Since He Already Has Enough Beer

Frat boys are a species of their own and here are some exciting gifts they will be ecstatic to receive!

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What more do frat boys love than alcohol, partying, and just acting stupid? Here are some gifts that help fulfill all of those needs for the frat boy in your life!

1. Beer holster belt

Whats better than one beer? Six beers! This fashionable camouflage accessory can be used for tailgates, beach days, formals and everything in between.

Price: $8.49 (one pack), $14.99 (two pack)

2. Phone juul holder 

You know those cardholders everyone sticks on the back of their phones? Well, now a Juul holder for your phone is on the market! This will save your favorite frat boy from ever again losing his Juul!

Price: $10.98

3. Animal house poster 

This Animal House poster is a classic staple for any frat boy. This poster will compliment any frat house decor or lack thereof.

Price: $1.95

4. The American Fraternity book

Does the frat boy in your life need a good read for Thanksgiving or winter break? Look no farther, this will certainly keep his attention and give him a history lesson on American fraternity heritage and tradition.

Price: $28.46

5. Beer pong socks 

These snazzy socks featuring beer pong will be loved by any frat boy. As for the way to any frat boy's heart may, in fact, be beer pong.

Price: $12.00

6. Condom case

This condom carrying case will not only protect condoms from damage but also make frat boys more inclined to practice safe sex, which is a win-win situation!

Price: $9.99

7. Frat house candle

Ahhh yes, who does not like the smell of stale beer in a dark, musty frat house basement? Frat boys can make their apartment or bedroom back home smell like their favorite place with the help of this candle.

Price: $16.99

8. "Frat" sticker

Frat boys always need to make sure everyone around them knows just how "fratty" they are. This versatile stick can go on a laptop, car, water bottle, or practically anywhere their little hearts desire.

Price: $6.50

9. Natty Light t-shirt 

Even I will admit that this shirt is pretty cool. The frat boy in your life will wear this shirt at every possible moment, it is just that cool!

Price: $38.76-$41.11

10. Natty light fanny pack 

This fanny pack can absolutely be rocked by any frat boy. The built-in koozie adds a nice touch.

Price: $21.85

11. Bud Light Neon Beer Sign 

A neon beer sign will be the perfect addition to any frat boys bedroom.

Price: $79.99

12. Beer Opener

Although most frat boys' go to beers come in cans, this bottle opener will be useful for those special occasions when they buy nicer bottled beers.

Price: $7.99

13. Frat House Dr. Sign

Price: $13.99

Forget stealing random street signs, with this gift frat boys no longer have to do so.

14. Beer Lights 

Lights are an essential for any party and these will surely light up even the lamest parties.

Price: $17.19

Please note that prices are accurate and items in stock as of the time of publication. As an Amazon Associate, Odyssey may earn a portion of qualifying sales.

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10 Holiday Gift Shopping Ideas From a Pro

I have completely taken over the gift shopping for my family and I couldn't love it more

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Holiday shopping can be stressful, especially when you have a long list of people to buy for and not enough time to do it. Hopefully these tips will help make the pre-Christmas shopping a bit easier, and keep your spirits up for Christmas.

1. Free shipping is your friend!

It isn't always convenient to go out and buy gifts, but if you have to order online, make sure you do it with free shipping.

2. But always check delivery dates

Before you order all of your gifts online, make sure you look at the delivery dates. If it won't show up until December 26, it won't do you any good!

3. Sign up for email lists

While getting all of those emails tends to be more of an annoyance during the year, most companies will offer some good deals to anyone on their email list. And besides, you can always cancel your subscription after the festivities are done.

4. Use couponing websites

Once again, a little bit of a hassle to search for all of the stores you plan to shop in before you go, but the savings will be worth it. Try websites like Retail Me Not and Groupon, or Unidays if you're a student. Even store websites will sometimes have coupons! Bonus tip: you can always get the app on your phone for any last minute stops.

5. When in doubt, buy something you would enjoy receiving 

What gift would you want someone to get you? Chances are the person you're buying for will like it too. Just make sure they have a similar taste as you (so your baby cousin or elderly grandfather might not work for this one).

6. Consider wrapping

Wrapping shouldn't prevent you from buying something for someone if you really think they'll like it, but if you have a choice between an oddly shaped toy box or a nicely boxed board game, go with the board game.

7. Maintain a price limit, and try to keep everyone the same

Especially when it comes to kids, it is important to be "fair" with your gifts. If you spend $50 on a nice sweater for your sister, you can't give your brother a $10 pair of headphones.

8. Think of things they need

Has your dad been complaining that his charger hasn't been working? Did your sister crack her good eyeshadow palate the other day? Take note of these things so that you can get people things they need without them even asking!

9. Always go personal 

Maybe not for your White Elephant gift, but for people who love and care about you, personal is the way to go. Sure, your mom might like another sweater, but what she'll love is a frame of a picture of you two that she can show off to all of her friends at work. A little bit more effort goes a long way.

10. Don't forget to treat yourself!

Holiday shopping is stressful, so don't forget to use those coupons and get yourself a treat! After all of that time on your feet, you deserve a day at the spa or a nice lunch somewhere.

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