Supporting Slavery?
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Politics and Activism

Supporting Slavery?

How Small Choices Breed Worldwide Change

Supporting Slavery?
Sasha Lezhnev/ The Enough Project

You wake up in the morning and go through your normal routine: check your phone, get dressed, make some coffee, get ready for the day. I would guess that most of us don't think about how we could be supporting slave labor just in our everyday routine, without even realizing.

The ugly truth that commercials and ads and media don't tell us is that so many of the companies we see in stores and in our own homes are unethically sourced or manufactured. And it's so easy to go about our lives without ever thinking of where our products come from or who it has affected. But just in our normal routine, thinking about our choices and what companies we buy from can make a world of difference.

I know that the first thing I do when I wake up is grab my phone. My alarm clock, calendar and basically everything is on my phone. Basically, our whole society runs on technology, but do we know what actually goes into making our phones and computers? Many of the minerals that are in the processors of our devices are sourced from mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where armed rebel groups terrorize villages to take control of these mines. Technology corporations then purchase these minerals, which funds these groups. These "conflict minerals" that go into our phones have funded the most deadly conflict since World War II. As a result of the conflict over minerals, over 5 million have died, over 2 million have been displaced, and thousands of child soldiers have been recruited. The rebel groups are also notorious for using rape as a weapon of war, making the Congo the most dangerous place to live if you are a woman.

In recent years, transparency within technology companies has been stressed. Now, tech corporations must publish their mineral sourcing policy. Companies such as Intel and Apple are working towards becoming completely conflict-free and now it's easy to look up a company and find out if they have a policy concerning conflict minerals. The easiest way to fight this conflict is the be aware of what is happening. Since we rely so heavily on technology, it is important to be aware of what we purchase.

In addition to our phones, much of what we use every day was sourced or manufactured using slave labor or sweatshops. The next thing many of us do in the morning is get dressed. And I know that when I buy clothes, I don't always think of how they were made. But many large clothing companies in the U.S, such as Nike, manufacture shoes and clothing using sweatshops and child labor.

I know one of the first things I do most mornings is drink my coffee. And I definitely don't always think about where it comes from, but coffee and chocolate are two products that are known for using slave labor. But I know I would never want to give up coffee (that would be disastrous for me and everyone around me). An easy solution is to be an informed consumer. We often don't realize the power that we hold as a consumer, but we are what fuels these industries. Something as simple as buying Fair Trade coffee instead of the kind you normally buy, or looking up a company before buying a new computer may seem small and meaningless, but if everyone did this we would see real change.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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