Reducing your misery footprint

9 Jun

It seems quite appropriate that, just after the statue of a man who profited from the slave trade is pulled down, my article on modern-day slavery comes out. I started writing it way before the incident that kicked off the recent protests, of course, and even before lockdown (although it’s been edited to reflect the new situation) but the problem has not gone away.

There are more slaves now than there have ever been.

That’s quite a bold statement, isn’t it? But according to the best estimates, it’s true. So if you’re going to get angry about historical slavery, get angry about modern slavery, too.

But what can you practically do about modern-day slavery? Well, there are some ideas in the article, and you can get a free copy of the magazine here. But if you’re not going to do that, try visiting the #slavefree page at International Justice Mission to find out about slavery in the supply chains of products you buy, or learn to spot the signs over on the Modern Slavery Helpline site. You can also donate to anti-slavery charities such as Anti-Slavery.org and Exodus Cry (to name just two).

It is inconvenient to check that the items you buy don’t have slavery in their supply chain (even where that’s possible at all). It’s more expensive to buy slave-free. It will curtail your fashion and retail choices. Other people may resent you if your conscious choices make them feel bad about their own. It might seem that it’s not worth the hassle.

Ultimately, it’s always been easier to accept slavery as a fact of life. It makes everything easier and cheaper. It’s convenient. But it’s wrong. Edward Colston probably knew that, whatever he told his conscience. We know it too. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

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