In her blog, Kelly Pont addresses the issue of child labor. She points to the problem of third world poverty needing to rely on their children to work to provide adequate sustenance juxtaposed with the first world demand for cheap products and consumer ignorance. She sees transparency as a huge step in the right direction to fix this problem.
I completely agree. I believe that our culture is a major factor in foreign child labor. While most Americans would not knowingly purchase products made by children, children provide the cheapest labor and a lot of American companies knowingly or unknowingly purchase raw materials from operations that exploit children. I am definitely not an expert in this issue. However, it stands to reason that a significant part of the problem can be alleviated through knowledge and transparency. US companies must be held accountable for their supply chains and US consumers must be more informed about the products that they are purchasing.
US regulations that mandate companies know the processes by which the materials they need are collected could be a foreseeable solution. More mandates for companies to post this information in a public forum would decrease first world demand for these products. Maybe demand would even increase for more sustainable products that pay third world adults a living wage. That’s idyllic, but not impossible.
The problem with this solution is the timeframe. Big government pact ion such as this is not likely to come any time soon. So for the short-term rather than putting blind faith in companies consumers should look for companies that are sustainable leaders in their sectors. There are responsible options out there. Research into companies before buying a product. Look for companies that are benefitting the universe. Until the government swoops in, we have to act as smart consumers and do our part to decrease demand for products that utilize child labor.