Buying Ethically this Christmas

cotton - forced labourCotton Field to Closet

As Christmas approaches with its promise of celebration, gifts and summer, a nagging little question worms itself into my brain:  How can I tell whether the products I’m about to buy have been ethically sourced and produced?

Let’s take cotton for example.  For some years now global markets have abounded in cheap cotton goods, which we as consumers eagerly snap up at ‘bargain basement’ prices. But cheapness often comes at a very high cost in terms of human lives. Forced labour, including child labour, is alarmingly common in the cotton industry.  Anti-Slavery International estimates that there are at least 12.3 million people whose work meets the definition of forced labour: “All work or service which is exacted from a person under the menace of any penalty and for which the worker does not offer himself or herself voluntarily.”

The eight top cotton producing countries worldwide are China, India, USA, Pakistan, Brazil, Australia, Uzbekistan and Turkey.Cotton accounts for 16% of global insecticide use, more than any other crop. Uzbekstan is the 6th major producer and the 2nd major exporter of cotton in the world.

Read the full article by ACRATH member Anne Kelly ibvm published by Mary Ward International Australia.

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