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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29 Stores That Will Just Give You Free Stuff On Your Birthday

All I want for my birthday is a bunch of free stuff!
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October holds the record for having the fourth highest amount of birthdays! With so many people having October birthdays, like myself, I wanted to share with everyone 29 stores that will give you free stuff for your birthday! If you weren't born in October, don't worry, you'll still be able to get free stuff when your birthday rolls around!

1. Starbucks

Who doesn't love a good Starbucks drink? Sign up for Starbucks Rewards, and you can get a free drink on your birthday!

2. Ulta

Free beauty products? Yes, please! Get a free birthday gift and double points on purchases made during your birthday month by signing up for Ulta's Ultamate Rewards program!

3. Sephora

Want even more free make-up? Sign up for their Beauty Insider rewards program to get a free which you can redeem any time during your birthday month!

4. Baskin Robbins


You can get a free scoop of ice cream on your birthday when you join their Birthday Club!

5. Old Navy

Old Navy will give you a free birthday surprise just for signing up for their email newsletter!

6. Buffalo Wild Wings

Who wouldn't want some free B-Dubs? By joining the Buffalo Circle club, you can receive a free order of snack size wings on your birthday!

7. Benefit Cosmetics

Get a free brow arch when you visit a Benefit Browbar beauty lounge during the week of your birthday! You don't even need to be a member!

8. Chick-fil-a

Sign up for email insiders for a free birthday surprise!

9. World Market

You can get a free birthday surprise when you sign up for the World Market Explorers Rewards program!

10. Bare Minerals

Whaaaaat! More free make-up? Sign up for Friends and Benefits, or FAB, to get a free birthday gift!

11. Krispy Kreme

Join their E-Club to receive a free donut on your birthday!

12. Sonic

Receive a special birthday treat when you sign up for a My Sonic account!

13. Olive Garden

Sign up for their eClub and receive a free appetizer or dessert on your birthday!

14. Great American Cookies

Get a free birthday surprise when you join the Cookie Club!

15. Dippin' Dots

By signing up for the Dot Crazy! rewards program, you can receive a free cup on your birthday!

16. Panera

When you join MyPanera, you can receive a free birthday pastry!

17. Red Robin

Yuuuuum! Get a free birthday burger when you register for Red Robin Royalty program!

18. Waffle House

Members of the Waffle House Regulars club can get a free waffle on their birthday!

19. Texas Roadhouse

Get a birthday gift by signing up for their email club!

20. IHOP

By signing up for Pancake Revolution, you can receive a free meal on your birthday! That's right, an entire meal!

21. Cracker Barrel

Go to Cracker Barrel on your birthday and get a free dessert!

22. Ruby Tuesday

Get a free birthday burger by joining their email club!

23. Wingstop

Members of The Club can get a free order of seasoned fries on their birthday!

24. Denny's

Go to Denny's, show them you ID, and receive a free Grand Slam on your birthday!

25. Cinnabon

Get a special birthday gift by registering for Club Cinnabon!

26. Longhorn Steakhouse

Create a My Longhorn account to receive a free treat on your birthday!

27. Zaxby's

Sign up for Zax Mail and receive a free Nibbler on your birthday!

28. Hooters

By joining the Hooters E-Club, you can get a free birthday gift!

29. TGI Fridays

Members of Friday's Rewards Loyalty Program get a free dessert on their birthday!

Cover Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/39908901@N06/8606910883

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11 Reasons Cyber Monday Deals Crush Black Friday

Don't waste your time shopping for lame deals.

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Black Friday deals used to have good deals, in recent years they have totally been scams. It might be worth it for a new tv here and there, but deals on clothes are just not the same as they used to be in the past. I much prefer to get the same deals with WAY less hassle by shopping online for Cyber Monday.

A bonus of online shopping is that you get a present when it comes in the mail! There are probably a million reasons we all dread Black Friday shopping, but these are by far the worst ones.

1. No parking

You can't park there!

Before getting to the store early to get a good deal, you have to get to the mall early to get a parking spot. If you're gonna spend a half hour just parking, go home.

2. Dealing with people

Everyone here is in my way.

All the crazy people are out shopping for Black Friday deals, do you really want to deal with that? I definitely do not.

3. Messy stores

How the heck am I supposed to find things?

With so many people shopping and a shortage of employees to work, stores are usually a disaster. There is a reason I never shop the Forever 21 sale section and this is it. There is no way to find what you wanted with clothes strewn everywhere.

4. Selling out

Perfect, they don't have what I wanted.

No surprises here, stores only have a limited stock of each item. At least if you shop online they can ship it from somewhere else, but if you go to the store just to find they're all out, well you're out of luck.

5. Long lines

Is there really only one cashier?

Black Friday deals also mean long lines. Stores aren't built to serve this many people at once, meaning there's going to be a wait for everything you want to do.

6. Bad hours

Won't catch me up early if I don't have to be.

Why would you want to be waiting in a line at 6 am when you could be in bed? To get what you want out of Black Friday you have to go super early before things sell out. That's a no from me.

7. Other sales

Hmm, you're saying everyday is the sale.

This won't be the only sale, or even the best sale of the holiday season. Black Friday deals are just a way stores get people to come in and spend money, even if they didn't need anything.

8.  Credit card fraud

Please leave my card alone.

Black Friday is one of the biggest days for credit card use, meaning it's also the biggest day of year for credit card fraud. Save your poor credit card and shop another day.

9. Small businesses Saturday

Feels good to shop local, doesn't it.

Small Business Saturday also offers great deals on more unique goods, plus you get the opportunity to support your local businesses. This is a great way to find a special gift for someone you don't know what the heck to buy.

10. Can't shop smart

It's 3 for $15 here but $4.99 there.

It's much harder to shop around in stores when it's that busy. Shopping online lets you compare prices with just the click of the button, especially if you already know what you want.

11. Curb impulse purchases

I need this, and this, oh, this too!

Shopping leads to more shopping. By shopping online you have plenty of time to decide what you want or don't want, which should help you to weed out things you added to your cart impulsively.

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