Scott: Tell me how many pair of jeans do you own?
Alekssandra Lopez: Fifteen to twenty pairs of jeans.
Scott: Two pair of jeans?
Matthew: Two pairs of jeans.
Brielle Jones: Five. I mostly wear leggings.
Scott: Now, what about, like, seafood?
Alekssandra: Obsessed with seafood. Love it!
Scott: Ok. So, how many pairs of sneakers would you say?
Shadae: Only if it’s Jordan’s.
Elias Zaldivar: Like, ten. Seriously.
Megan Zaldivar: More than these guys.
Scott: Sounds like your typical American teen, right? Teenage consumers spend just over $208 billion every year in the U.S. And a lot of that money is spent on products made using slave labor.
Shadae: You mean minimum wage?
Scott: No, no, no. I mean, like, slaves. Like, no wage.
According to the State Department, as many 27 million people are enslaved around the world. And human trafficking, when humans are bought and sold as slaves, happens in more than 160 countries, including the U.S.
Justin Dillon: We think here in the United States, slavery is a problem elsewhere in the world. We have over 200,000 people living in slave conditions here in the U.S.
Scott: Justin is the CEO of Made in a Free World, an organization trying to stop slave labor wherever it exists. And he got involved after his band went on tour through Eastern Europe.
Justin: I would start to meet kids that were being given these opportunities to come to the West, and upon just a little bit of investigation, we found out that they were about to be trafficked. My life somehow intersected into this issue in a way that I didn’t realize. Opened my eyes up.
Scott: Justin and his team wanted to open up everyone’s eyes, so they created SlaveryFootprint.org, a tool to analyze a person’s impact on the world of forced labor.
Justin: We’d love to create the equivalent of carbon footprinting for the slavery movement, so hence Slavery Footprint.
Scott: From the food you eat, electronics you use, clothes you wear and even the things you use to get clean, the survey tallies them all and shows you how your lifestyle contributes to slavery.
Justin: So, we determined the amount of slavery in over 400 different consumer products. Since then we’ve done quite a few more. We can, literally, determine the likely number of forced laborers for any one product.
Scott: And the app allows you to send letters directly to companies and brands you like, to let them know you don’t want them to use slave labor, and ask companies to prove it by starting to use the Made in a Free World tag.
Justin: Over a million people have taken the survey, and if the marketplace gets loud on this, we’re going to see a lot of people’s lives change because of it.
Scott: So, do you really think that slavery is something that we can end in our lifetime?
Justin: All of it? I’m not so sure about that. But can we end most of it? The one that’s all the way out there in the open? Absolutely.
Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.
- How is the slavery described in today’s story different from pre-Civil War slavery?
- What is the main goal of SlaveryFootprint.org?
- Do you think people aren’t aware, or don’t care, about the current slavery crisis?
- Do you see a way to end slavery entirely? How would your strategy work?