Calculate your slavery footprintI’ve always fancied myself as a conscious citizen of the world. I try to minimise my impact by buying locally grown food wherever I can, opting for the single-origin coffee beans that are accompanied by a beautiful sob story, donating money to good causes and driving a wanky hybrid (spare me the criticism; I’ve heard it all).
There are a few exceptions—guilty pleasures you might say: I get a new smartphone every year (currently I have two), I run two Macbook Pros and have three games consoles… and a decent collection of Nike sneakers... and I am ALWAYS connected to the net.
On quick reflection it would seem that I’m actually a capitalist pig who enjoys playing his part in the inevitable demise of our world.
Today I picked up this link on Yammer: http://slaveryfootprint.org and it immediately challenged my consumeristic tendencies. Slavery Footprint is a website and iPhone app that asks who you are, where you’re from and what you do and uses that information to estimate how many slaves work for you, based on the average minimum number of people required to support them.
The notion of slavery in this modern age doesn’t gel well with what we’ve been taught: God rescued the Hebrew people from Egypt and Abe Lincoln emancipated slaves in 1863! Hazzuh! But Slavery Footprint endeavours to show that the issue is no longer as visible as chained slaves working on a cotton plantation.
The site claims that the supply chain (where the raw materials come from) enslaves more people than at any time in human history. I’m not surprised that there are people (children) forced to work for nothing, but it’s quite depressing to know there are more slaves than ever before.
There are at least 27 million slaves worldwide. That’s roughly the combined population of Australia and New Zealand. Crikey!
The site also pointed out that there is a very real slave trade here in Australia!
So, how many slaves do I have working for me? Compared to the site’s average user, I didn’t do very well—I scored 33 compared to an average of 25 people.
The site profiles you according to location, age, sex and how you live. You can even give it fine detail such as how often you eat almonds (which I’m guessing are somehow brought to you by the blood, sweat and tears of small children). You can find out more about how it calculates this here.
Once you have generated a score, you can then take affirmative action by sending an enlightening letter to one of the myriad brands listed on the site. You can also donate money to the organisation (which I’m assuming they use for further research and publicity).
The best message here is that the almost everything we do and consume requires a constant level of slavery to support them, regardless of who we are and where we’re from. This is unacceptable and I commend Slavery Footprint for helping us better visualise this fact.
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