Social Change

How to spot & avoid products made by child labour

With 168 million children involved in child labour and slavery worldwide, it is important to make sure our own purchases aren’t helping perpetuate the problem.

When we purchase products, whether it be for gifts or home, it is so easy to do it on the fly without much thought. Once we’ve found what we want, a ridiculously low price tag can feel like the ultimate win. After all, money doesn’t grow on trees! However, unfortunately when we dig just below the surface, those low prices often reflect a much darker and less desirable origin.

With 168 million children between the ages of 5- 17 involved in child labour and slavery worldwide, it is important to make sure our personal purchases aren’t helping perpetuate the problem.

Children are used in a range of industries from agriculture to manufacturing and fashion as they make for very cheap labour and are easy targets without a voice.

As consumers, we have the power to change this. Products are only created if they will be bought! It is up to us to demand greater transparency of supply chains, so that we can see an end to child labour and slavery.

This year, keep the happiness of all children in mind when making purchases. Here are some red flags to avoid, questions to ask and conscious swaps to ensure a very happy year for all.

Chocolate

Over 60% of the world’s cocoa comes from Ghana and the Ivory Coast in West Africa. Children make up almost half of the workers in these cocoa farms and work in slave like conditions, away from their families.

The power here belongs to you, the consumer: when it comes to buying chocolate, you really can make a difference by voting with your wallet (and your tastebuds!):

Action

  • Always look for the Fairtrade logo. Fairtrade certification aims to ensure that the chocolate has been produced without the use of child labour.
  • Read the label: buy chocolate that contains cacao that has either been sourced directly from the farmer or via a transparent and ethical supply chain.
  • Buy chocolate from local, organic or wholefood stores over mainstream supermarkets. You are more likely to find ethical or Fairtrade certified chocolate in smaller shops with bigger hearts.
  • Search for ethical chocolate online or find our 2021 winners HERE. Not only are the chocolate products we recommend child labour free, they are sustainably produced and packaged (including palm-oil free).⁠

Tea

With new tea brands appearing on the market every day, the tea industry is growing fast. Unfortunately, so is child labour in the tea industry. Child labour is common in India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burma.

Action

  • Always look for the Fairtrade logo. Fairtrade certification aims to ensure that a product has been produced without the use of child labour.
  • Read the label: buy tea that has been sourced from an ethical supply chain. Ask the company if you are not sure.
  • Search for ethical tea online or click to see the 2021 winners of our Tea and Health Tea categories. 
How to Spot & Avoid Products Made By Child Labour, Makeup, Clean + Conscious

Makeup

When purchasing makeup and skincare, it is also important to be conscious of not supporting child labour. Mica is an ingredient commonly used to add shimmer to beauty products – from highlighter to lipstick and unfortunately is often mined by children. More than a decade after cosmetics companies were first alerted to child labour in the supply chain of mica, up to 20,000 children are still working in India’s mica mines and 11,000 in Madagascar’s.

Action

  • Read the label – does your makeup or skincare product contain Mica? If so, reach out to the company or look on their website to see whether their mica is sourced ethically.
  • There is no certification for ethical mica, however look for brands which are a part of the Responsible Mica Initiative.
  • Some ethical brands may also choose to use synthetic man-made mica instead, to ensure their supply chain is child labour free
  • Find ethical makeup and skincare products in our Clean + Conscious directory. 

Toys

75% of the toys in the world are manufactured in China. With toys costing less than ever before, there has been the rise of migrant child workers in factories across China.

Action

  • Try to buy toys made in Australia
  • If a toy is made in China – ask the company if they are a part of the Ethical Toy Program, which aim to establish a global standard for ethical toy manufacture.
  • Look for brands who are B.Corp certified. B.Corp certification involves ensuring a transparent supply chain and no workers below the age of 15.
  • Find beautiful ethical toys and kids activities in our Clean + Conscious directory.  See Kids Activities 2+ and Kids Activities 4+ . Our Awards celebrate products that are child labour free as well as sustainably produced and without the use of toxins.

Clothing

The culture of fast fashion and consumerism has pushed companies to keep costs down, through finding the cheapest forms of labour. Unfortunately, this means children are used widely in the fashion industry – from cotton picking to spinning yarn and sewing buttons.

Action

  • Look for brands which are a part of the Fair Wear Foundation, Fairtrade Label Organisation, the Ethical Trading Initiative or have a Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification.
  • See our ethical activewear and underwear 2021 winners in the Clean + Conscious directory. Our Awards celebrate products that are child labour free as well as sustainably produced and without the use of toxins.

If there was ever a reason to make conscious choices about our purchases, avoiding child labour and slavery is it. By actively avoiding purchases which support a supply chain involving child labour, businesses will put more focus and funds into avoiding it.

We as the consumer have a power like no other, to push corporates into action.

Let’s make sure our individual purchases are voting to end child labour, rather than support it.

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