World Vision Canada
We often have little or no idea about the manufacturing chain a given product passes through before it reaches our country.
Canadians bought $34 billion-worth of "risky" goods last year.
This World Day Against Child Labour is a poignant one for me. It's been over three years since I started living as a more conscious consumer, by educating myself about child labour in the products I buy and use. That all started with a little blue dress I bought in England.
No parent dreams of their child working at a young age, missing out on school. But for Mark and his family of seven children in the Philippines, one income wasn't enough to provide for their basic needs. At seven years old, his son Paul carried the burden of work to give his other siblings a better chance in life.
Here in Canada, we know the importance of protecting children, so they have a chance to be children. But in many parts of the world, a child Derrick's age would already be working 12-hour shifts through pain, exhaustion, and abuse.
Here in Canada, children learn to scuba dive for fun. But in Honduras, Ariel's work is largely invisible. Tourists tucking into a seafood meal just down the shore from his boat -- perhaps raising a glass of wine at sunset -- likely have no idea who hauled up their dinner from the ocean floor.
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Despite some earnest progress, workers, including children, are still being exploited. Big factories that supply major brands are better regulated, but many of the smaller operations -- just one link down in the supply chain -- are still engaging children in some of the worst forms of child labour.
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Fifteen per cent of kids are missing school to work.
People shop at thrift stores for many reasons. I hail from Britain, where second-hand clothing was not a source of shame but a way of life. Here in Canada, our family has a limited budget for clothing, preferring to pay for canoe trips and soccer programs. But the best reason for thrift shopping has less to do with how we look -- and everything to do with the lives we touch.
As you dress your kids for playtime, barbecues and camp this summer, I invite you to consider some new strategies. Does your kids really need closets full of cheap summer items, when a few, carefully chosen quality items would do just as well?
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Which companies are better at checking their chains for child and forced labour? And what are they doing to respond? World Vision's report helps answer many of these questions. By tracking supply chains of Canadian companies, the researchers identify which have a likelihood of being connected to child and forced labour.
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The organization has pushed the federal government to craft legislation for more than a year.
While shopping, looking at my purchased items makes me wonder: Where were they made? Who made them? And under what conditions? However, it wasn't until recently that I reminded myself that perhaps the items I was purchasing for myself and my children were made by children themselves.
I know that global trade is critical to raising many poor families out of poverty -- as in the Bangladeshi families noted above. But the economic model I want to see more of is one where strong local economies around the world are meeting people's needs in a sustainable and healthy way.